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The Recruitment Hackers Podcast
24 minutes | 4 days ago
How Conectys kept the office fun factor during the lockdown
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers podcast. I'm Max from Talkpush and today I'm delighted to be welcoming on the show Cristina Mihai, who is VP of HR and communications for, I don't want to butcher the name, Cristina, it's Conectys. Thank you. Welcome to the show, Cristina.Cristina: Thank you for having us and having me here. Lovely to be here. Max: Lovely to have you. And Cristina is well, I said what you're doing but you were telling me before we got on about your very international team. Around some very exotic and lovely destinations with people in Turkey and Taiwan and the U.S all over the world.Could you maybe start by introducing us a little bit to Conectys what you do and what makes this workplace special? Sure Conectys is a very, very special place. It's a very successful entrepreneurial endeavor with you know, just a guy who 15 years ago, decided to move from the corporate world to the entrepreneurial world and start a contact center, BPO business in a country that is not so, let's say familiar to everybody on the BPO map, which is Romania. And it's been a very successful story of growing from 10 people, 15 years ago to 3,000 plus in 10 different sites right now. And now the sun never sets on Conectys people. Max: I noticed before we started our chat that you kept on growing in 2020 while others were retrenching, Conectys continued to grow through 2020.So it's been a good year for the business. I mean, I'm sure traumatic in many ways, but you managed to get something out of this traumatic experience, some growth. Cristina: Yes. So we really partner with our clients and even if this year was a very difficult one for some of our client partners, the good risk distribution within our portfolio allowed us to, you know, get some hits together with our clients but also grow very, very steeply with some others.So we were also lucky, obviously. We did adapt.Max: Only the good ones are lucky. Cristina: Yeah, you make your luck within a degree, but you have to have luck as well. And we capitalized on our ability to move very quickly. I mean when the COVID situation hit us, we moved everybody in work from home in six days.And I think this is the story, you know, working very closely with the clients and making this really entrepreneurial move, taking some risks, adjusting. I think that's the story behind it. Max: And now we're in December. And those six days, they sound like the most fun time we ever had. Right? When it was like everybody was moving was exciting. And now we're all stuck at home and we hate it. Actually if you go back in time and you remember those six days, they were not so much fun, I think. Cristina: No, they were not, there were legal technical implications. You name it. And everybody was happy to move from home, and now everybody's saying, can we go to the office pretty please, you know? Max: Yeah yeah. The grass is always greener on the other side. That's why I'm back in the office now because everybody's stuck at home. I'm like I'm going. Cristina: Yeah. And I want curly hair, but yeah. Not going to happen. So what can I say? Max: So Conectys is a wonderful entrepreneurial success story from 10 to 3000 in 15 years. Well done. And you talked about the distribution of risk. I think in the BPO sector, there's a distribution of risk on both clients where you don't want to have all your eggs in one industry, but also geographical. Right? The clients are looking at the political risk and the cost of labor and how that changes with the currency rates exchange and things like that, for our audience who don't come from that world. Can you tell us how that factors into the decision from going for one BPO or another?Cristina: Yeah. So in the latest years clients have been shopping for right shoring, right? Not offshoring like it was like 20 years ago, but right shoring to strike the balance between the lowest cost. In a BPO, typically 80% of the cost is human cost — or has been human cost, until lately. Now, technology is kicking in and that's changing a bit, but yeah. So you have to strike the balance between the lowest cost you can find language talent and the right quality. Because there's no difference between us and our clients. We need to service the needs of users, the end users. And that means that some people want really, really high quality, not just, you know, low cost. So if you are the BPO partner of high-end luxury brands it doesn't matter so much if you cut the cost by 10, 20%, you have to maintain the quality so that the end user of our client company feels that they’re getting the value of customer service. Max: They want that Chanel experience. Cristina: Exactly. Even if my French speaking colleague, the talent in French is based in Tunis or Egypt or whatever it is ...Max: I thought it was in Romania. I know I have so many of my Romanian friends who are fluent in French.Cristina: True. But it might be in other territories. Max: So I've only been working with the sector that you've been in for a long time for five, six years, myself. And so for all this time, in my mind Romania was like, you know, number one for Europe because of the multilingual talent and so on.But you were saying that 15 years ago that wasn't the case. Cristina: That was the case. This is why Arnold Cobbaert who is our CEO and founder chose Romania. One of the reasons he chose Romania is because it was a very, very strong talent language territory. Cost has gone high though in Romania.So now we have to fight and find our edges for language talent in all the places we can get them. Max: Destinations like Romania and maybe Malaysia are famous for having... and Dalian in China, are famous for having multilingual talent, where you can have one team that handles, you know, five or six languages. Is that model kind of, you know, old news now that people are working from home, like do you need everybody in the same room?Like the multilingual city doesn't make sense anymore because the city is all on zoom anyway. Cristina: It is true and probably COVID changed the philosophy of the BPOs forever. We will never go back 100% in offices, that's clear. But, this raises a lot of other issues and they have to do with leadership and management because these people have to be led and managed.And it's not so easy to do it via zoom or whatever we're using, you know. And people really need the connection, the human connection at some point. We operate in delivery sites in territories where people are very relational. I mean, can you imagine Romania or Turkey or the Philippines, even, when people really like to get up to be together as people and you know, zoom doesn't do that.I mean we haven't found the right way to team buildings on Zoom, you know, and stuff like that, Christmas parties. These are efforts that everybody's doing these days. So you’re right, it will be work from home forever and ever as an add-on to the business model, but we will have to strike a balance here somehow.Max: Yeah, well maybe with all the money that people are saving on office and office rents, we can throw some really, really good parties and really big parties. Cristina: Trust me, this is on top of our minds how to make them happy, you know, I'll put it in front of the freaking computer. Max: Well I'm excited, it's on my mind too. I mean it's Christmas season in Hong Kong and the bars are closed and we're just trying to figure out how to squeeze some fun out of this season, this holiday season. And so yeah, I'm going to be sending some wine to people, I'm going to try the whole drinking wine on zoom with other people.Cristina: While you're not on shift, preferably right. Max: Yeah, well I, yes. I'm on 24/7 shifts. So I'm afraid that it's going to have to overlap a little bit. So, interesting comments you made about these cultures that are very relational. I've often heard, I've traveled the world, looking for sales, hiring salespeople. And every country I go to, they always tell me the same thing. Here it’s different. Here it's all about relations. The exact same words I hear them everywhere in the world. So at the risk of ostracizing, maybe some groups and some nationalities. And so as the head of communication I advise you to thread carefully.But if on one hand of the spectrum, we have those warm, super relational countries. What's on the other side of the spectrum? What other countries that are maybe less likely to ask for a hug? Cristina: Yeah, I'm going to answer that, but maybe elaborate a bit. Maybe it's the frequency of hugs, you know maybe, I don't know. Some countries have people that are, you know, satisfied with one hug a week. Okay. Others that need to huddle three times a day. So that's the difference I'm talking about, but human connection is something we all want and we all long for, so it doesn't work with that. It's just the frequency and the intensity of the bonding. That is a bit different. And on the other side it's about the fact that some you know, country, characteristics go about being very individualistic. You can stand on your own, you can make your own decisions, have your own, you know, paths of action or very group type of thinking. People who need to chat between themselves in the team, for instance, to make a group decision and to move on like the Philippines, for instance. So this is what I mean by the difference between, you know, okay. Max: Okay, I'm going to answer my question myself. What you mean to say is the Anglo-Saxons, the Anglo-Saxons are more individualistic.Cristina: You're the one pointing fingers. Not me.Max: Okay. Yeah. So that's not a denial, so I'll take that as a yes. Yeah. I totally get it. I mean every time I talked to somebody in the U.S, for example they tell me I've been working on zoom for the last 15 years, it makes absolutely no difference to me. They've been doing it for so long. And let's move from these sensitive topics to something more universal, which is the progress of technology and how technology has impacted your world. What are some of the technology initiatives that you've undertaken recently that have changed the nature of your candidate experience and maybe made it more automated? And you know how has the transition been managed? Cristina: Traditionally Conectys is a consultancy type of a BPO. We, like I said earlier, we partner with clients and we give consultancy to optimize their businesses as well. Not only to deliver, you know, transactional results and stuff. So for us, it's been a while until we found a way to mix this — I wouldn't even say strategic approach — I would say the way we love to do business, you know, with incorporating automation and other kinds of tools that would help us on the cost side and efficiency side.So what we've done is we have for instance, our software is 80% proprietary. We have a Conectys OS operating systems that we have been developing for years and years. And we keep growing functionalities there, but we have started this year to use a very, very strong internal automation team to help us build better interfaces, optimized processes and stuff like that.And in recruitment, in talent, acquisition, recruitment, and selection, that business area, this is crucial for us. Because we operate very high volumes, we typically hire hundreds of people per month. So for us automating the sourcing part, the first part of the funnel elements, the ones that are not value added for customer experience, our candidates are our customers in this process, right?Yeah. So we try to build in highly automated processes at the beginning of the TA funnel, the talent acquisition funnel to the extent that they don't hurt customer experience or candidate experience. This is the phase we're in, and we're doing this. We are building robots that funnel in from different talent sourcing pools, things into our proprietary systems, so that then recruiters can move into them, you know, taking care of our candidates.That’s let's say top of my mind thing that we've been doing this year. Max: And what do you think about video screening? Is that in or out? Hot or not hot? Cristina: It is hot. But, it's not on the top of the list because of the issues that we're having in certain territories with the internet.Max: Yes. The Philippines. Cristina: Yeah we are seeing talent pool areas where the internet is not so good so that the machine can’t do the work properly. Max: How's Tunisia for the internet. Good enough? Cristina: Asia is not good enough.Max: Tunisia, Tunisia.Cristina: Ah, Tunisia. I haven't done that in Tunisia yet. We haven't done it yet. Max: And then chatbots hot or not?Cristina: Very, very hot we're working on it. But you have to be smart because if it's not smart, people are being hurt by interacting with the machine. Max: So, yeah, well we have our thoughts on best practices, you know be transparent about the bot being a bot and let the bot accept when there's a mistake, escalate to a human when needed.Cristina: Exactly.Max: And ideally create a system which is hybrid where you have the bot and the human that can take different parts of the candidate journey. Cristina: Absolutely. That's the way we're going. And we're building on it. Max: All right. We've reached the same conclusions. Good stuff. And so with all of this hiring being done remotely now and no parties, no hugging. Do you have some tips and tricks for our listeners on how we can humanize and build stronger bonds for people we're not going to meet in person? You said you haven't found a solution and everybody's trying to solve the same problem. But You know, we'd be happy to hear them, even your bad ideas, we're happy to hear them.Cristina: Oh yeah, we have a lot of those. Because like I said, we're entrepreneurs, which means trial and error. We keep experimenting things until we get some stuff. We have really moved — it's about leadership practices, obviously. It's about each person's team manager being really, really close in the huddles.It's about using Well, the chat system that we have. It's about being in proximity, because you can have virtual proximity very easily. If everybody knows that the peers and the managers are, you know, one word away or even when you open the channel and stay in touch with your colleagues, even if everybody's working independently.For instance, when I work with my peers and my colleagues, we may open the screens just to be like in the same room, we do our own thing and we just make jokes together. So, this can be as good as it gets right now. Max: These principles, I guess, can be applied for onboarding as well, where you have a new class of people who are being hired and you're giving them a chance to immediately interact with each other.I've seen this in virtual career fairs where you got some networking between the candidates, so they feel that they're part of a common experience. It feels more real if you're in it together. Cristina: Yeah. And maybe one of the biggest recent wins, I think is the ability of people to pop up in meetings like we used to do, and we were in the offices and somebody would open your door and they would say something and, you know. We're doing that right now in a virtual environment, we have the meeting lines that are being open.Even yesterday, somebody popped up, said, hey, sorry to disturb, but I have a question: can we sort it out with the two of you that are here? So they popped up in the virtual meeting. They popped out. It's feeling like you're there, you have access. You're not stuck in your own home with your own computer, with just planned access to people.Because I think this is the point. Planned access is fine, but the unplanned thing that you feel the need to solve is the difficult one. Max: Yeah. Sometimes it's just like, ah, so frustrating. I just want to grab somebody and meet them now and it can not happen. But then if you get that time with them and you open a Google slide or a whiteboard online, like it's just as good, you know, it is just as good. It's just a little less natural initially. Cristina: It is, but again, an example from training. We had a group in training and we wanted to work together on some phrases, you know, setting objectives, goals, stuff like that. And it was even better than in real life, because in real life you can’t have a group of people going to the white board and writing on top of each other.Max: No there's always some asshole who holds the pen the whole time. Cristina: HAHA, there you go. And you don't have physical space in front of the little screen, but here it's entirely possible because people were all on the same document you could see who is changing what. And we even took pictures of that because it's good interaction.Thank God for technology. I mean, this crisis struck when we had options, you know? Max: Yeah. I felt the same thing on my side and that you get more productive and you do the meetings.. where it used to be, you run meetings, sequentially asking everybody to talk: you, then you, then you, then you, and now you can do meetings where kind of everybody is pouring out information at the same time. Cristina: Yeah and you have new options, for instance now we are really having a lot of fun, for instance, is one of the values of the company. So we get ways to do that. And it's really fun to play with a mute others button when you want to play a practical joke, right. Or when somebody feels in a funny way and just puts some, you know, ears and noses thing in a very serious conversation. These are things you can't do in real life, but you can do it now. So let's take advantage, there you go, that’s the one.Max: So for our listeners, I just went ahead with the bunny ears, a courtesy of zoom technology. Cristina: Yeah. That's the point! Max: No disrespect Cristina. I mean, it's an honor. It's the first time I'm taking the bunny out for the podcast. Cristina: Looking good on you. What can I say? Max: Yeah, the more stuff I put on my face, the better I look.So you've brought a little bit of fun into our lives and to this discussion. So thank you for that. And I hope your company's good fortune will be contagious for our listeners, and that they'll have the same kind of success your company has had next year. If they haven't had this year.Cristina: Fingers crossed.Max: And yeah any parting words or tips for our audience? I have one more question. Cristina: Yes, please go. Max: This one is darker and then we'll do the parting words. The darker question is go back to a time when you hired somebody that was a really, really bad hire. It's normally a memory that you've erased from your memory. And what did you learn from that mistake?Cristina: To track my instincts. You know, that moment where, you know, something's off, but your entire logic says, oh, no, it's fine. Sooner or later managers or people in talent acquisition learn to educate or to listen to their instinct. So that was the biggest lesson. Max: Well I agree with you completely. I know we've all made that mistake.Cristina: And we keep doing it right? Max: Well, yes, because we should also not trust our instinct. Cristina: Exactly. You're right. You need that mix. Max: Okay. So yeah. on the automation journey advice for our audience for our audience? Cristina: Always ask the question, can this be automated? That's how we do it. Always ask, can this be automated? You know and the second question is, is it worth it? So just use those two questions. Max: Yeah we can cut those three hour meetings down to a few minutes where those two questions. I think you've given us a very good working tool, Cristina, thank you very much for your time and thoughts and well Merry Christmas and a happy new year.Cristina: Thank you, Mr. Money.Max: Talk soon. Cristina: Talk soon. That was Cristina Mihai from Conectys, VP of HR, reminding us how important it is to have a sense of humor and a positive outlook when you work in HR and when you're helping an organization go through a big transformation. It's important for people to not take themselves too seriously. And even when you're doing automation, technology and various serious things, you need people like Cristina to make the organization stay strong together.Hope you enjoyed it. And that you'll be back for more on the Recruitment Hackers podcast. Please follow us and share with friends.
30 minutes | 11 days ago
After 20 Years Hiring at American Eagle - The Current Retail Landscape
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry. Brought to you by Talk push the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: All right. Hello everybody. Welcome back to the recruitment hackers podcast. I'm your host Max Armbruster and today. On the show. I've got Jen Thornton, CEO of Three O Four coaching. Welcome to the show, Jen. Jen: Hi and thanks for having me.Max: Pleasure to have you. So Jen is someone who comes from the high volume recruitment world of retail. And worked at American Eagle for over 20 years if your bio is correct. Jen: Yes, yes, I did. Max: Which must've been quite the journey. So, well, we'd love to hear a little bit about that, where you come from. And then of course if you could introduce us to three or four coaching, your current business.Jen: So sure. So my early career was in retail and I've always loved the retail industry, you know, even as a young girl fashion and trend, like all of that was just exciting and fun. I always thought it was interesting. And I come from a long lineage of shoppers, so I wanted to be in retail. And so that's what I did.And I spent the first half of my career in the operations side of it. And the second half in HR. And so my approach to HR was always very different because I had the operations mindset, you know, waking up to your KPIs every morning, you know, making quick decisions, prioritizing 100 number one priorities, you know, all that stuff you do on the operation side of retail.So when I went into HR I actually started in talent acquisition, and that was my first HR gig and it was a ton of fun. And we did the store recruitment for American Eagle and then things progressed. And when I left A. E. I was the head of international HR. And then, you know, I came to that point in my career where I was ready for something new and something different.And I didn't really see myself ever working for another retailer. I mean, I'd worked for one of the best in the world and I, you know, worked for them when they had 160 stores. And then, you know, when they were in 27 countries, I needed to do something fresh and new. And so I started 3 or 4 coaching.And what the team does today is we help organizations think about their talent strategy. And how does that match up to their business strategy? Because we all have business plans, but not everyone has a talent plan that matches it. And so we work with organizations to look at their hiring practices, their onboarding practices, how do we educate and grow our teams? And we do executive coaching. So it's all about delivering on the talent. Max: Wonderful, great. I'm sure the people at American Eagle appreciate the fact that you didn't go to the competition or something like that. And that you came to that stage of your life where it was about giving back to as many people as possible, you know, as a coach, rather than as a soldier. And thinking about this journey from operations to HR and through talent acquisition it sounds like you were focused on getting the stores the right talent. And I imagine the key person you want to get rights is the store manager, and everything else kind of follows from that, right? Is that the way you organize your TA strategy on the retail side? Jen: Yeah, we did look at the key positions and, you know, those positions that we're making the bulk of the decisions. In a store environment that store manager or general manager is making the bulk of the decisions.And so, you know, I think that it's all about getting the right store manager, but we also thought a lot about the right store manager for the right time. And, you know, oftentimes a store may be in high growth, or it may be in a leverage mine, you know, they are in a solid market, but we want to leverage what we have.You know, there may be a time where there's a big remodel, you know, there's just always different things going on. And so we not only focused on the right store manager, but really the right store manager for that time, for that generation of that store, to ensure that they could deliver on the expectations.Max: So you were looking at the right generation for that specific location? Not at the brand level, we're hiring the same store manager, regardless, you know, you don't have like one global model. I mean, I'm sure you have a little bit of both, but I wouldn't have thought that a big brand would be able to localize it's hiring for the maturity level of a single location. Jen: Yeah. We worked really closely with the leadership for those markets. And we were involved in the succession planning. We were involved in, you know, where that business was going. And you can look at talent acquisition in two ways. You can look at it the way where you just produce candidates and you just push them out, or you can become a trusted advisor. And that's what our goal was, to be a trusted advisor. And to really understand the unique business of every market and to help those leaders make great hiring decisions so that we could leverage the talent. And, you know, my team back then every single recruiter on that team had been a district manager or a store manager. So they really understood the business. And I think that was one of our biggest success markers was that we had been there. We did that. We understood the business. You know, we could look at a report and know where there were opportunities from a KPI standpoint and help people make really great decisions.Max: So for example, to illustrate that and you'd have one, one candidate, that'd be a little bit more experienced on the management side. One that would have a sensibility around. Maybe design and you know, merchandise. I don't know. I have zero experience. Yeah. Could you illustrate that with maybe some profiles or personas? Jen: Yeah, absolutely. So if, you know, if we were looking at, say a flagship store in New York city, and it's a new store, it hasn't even opened yet. So then we would be looking for general managers with experience in flagship but also experience in opening large volume stores. Because, you know, there's a lot, you learn when you open a store you know, an iconic New York city flagship store. And so we would look for people that had that experience.And then we would blend that maybe with internal candidates, maybe an internal candidate that didn't necessarily have that experience in a flagship New York store, but maybe they really understood our brand. And so not only would we want to say, okay, here's what the GM needs. So look like here's maybe what the system needs to look like. And we would take a really hard look at how to blend experience to make sure that all of our decisions came together and could execute, you know, the plan.Max: Makes sense. And how big of a team for how many stores? Give us an idea of what the ratio is because I do a bit of work in retail and for many retailers, the whole concept of having a centralized recruitment team is still new, foreign and political. Especially with organizations that have a franchisee model. They haven't necessarily figured out how to do it. And then they're basically let every location owner run the show. And so I'm always curious to ask about the business models that worked. Jen: So, you know, when we looked at brands, the brand that we owned and operated, so there's American Eagle, Aerie, other brands over the years. And so if we owned and operated it, we were highly involved and we as TA, we worked strategically with the leaders of those markets. And so typically, there were five people on the team and we supported all of US in Canada. Those were owned and operated. And so gosh, at any given time around a thousand stores.So you know, American Eagle was fantastic. We had a very low turnover for retail. And so people may be thinking, how did five people support a thousand stores? But the type of decisions that we help people make, you know, when you make good hiring decisions on the front end, it improves your turnover. It helps everything on the backend. And so I really believe that a lot of the work we did on the front end of making really good hiring decisions helped us with the retention. It was a key factor in keeping those numbers.Max: A thousand stores, typically a store would have between 20 head count-ish or more. So it would have been impossible for a team of five to manage all these openings. And that's why the focus was on the store managers and their assistants. And from there, I guess there is a manual, we give her the manual to the store manager and say, you know, please apply that to your local hiring.Jen: Yeah. And as a TA team, we were also responsible for education. And so we produced, you know, education material and did workshops to help individuals understand good interviewing practices and how to make great hiring decisions. And so, you know, I think sometimes, recruiters think, Oh, well, my job is just to give candidates out, but you're really also the face of the brand or the person that candidate meets the first time.And so, yeah. If you aren't representing the brand, in a way that shows, this is how we treat our customers. This is how we treat our peers. Like all of that's really important. And so we were educating people from the minute we got on the phone with them. This is our customer service model.We care about you, we care about your future. And I mean, we did LinkedIn courses. We did all kinds of things to help educate the teams on making really great decisions and for them to, you know, be able to find their own candidates too. Cause we couldn't do a hundred percent of that. It had to definitely be a team sport when it came to recruitment for that many stores.Max: The education of hiring managers is never ending pursuit because when you're first point in a position of power where you can decide who to hire. That power can easily get to your head. I think that, you know, too many managers who immediately default to, I'm going to grill this person and forget that most of the employer branding happens during the first interview. I don't think it happens on a website, on a Facebook page.Jen: No, I think you are so right on that. Max: Yep. So like what would be some tips for driving employer branding for hiring managers? Personally, I'm rewriting our manual right now, so that we explicitly say these are the people we don't want to hire. That would be like a hard message to deliver for managers, but because it's hard, it's worthwhile.Jen: Yeah, absolutely. You know, when you think about employer branding, there's some, I mean, you could go a million different ways. And there's, you know, all of the social media and all the videos and all this stuff you're supposed to do, but at the end of the day, it's really about the relationship you create with the candidates that you're going to hire and the candidates you're not going to hire.And. You have to be organized. You have to communicate, you have to be respectful to these individuals. If they're not going to go to the next phase, you have to tell them. And I think what we often heard from candidates back then was you're one of the few teams who told me where I was in the process, or thank you for letting me know I didn't get the job and not just ghosting me. And. You know right now I know a lot of retailers that are looking for jobs and a lot of incredibly talented people and time and time again, when I talk to them, they're frustrated because of the lack of communication from a recruiter and, you know, that speaks of the brand. It's how you're treating your external customer because every candidate really is a customer in retail. They could be in your store shopping at any moment. And so, you know how we treat our candidates, says everything about the organization. Max: Yeah. And if you scare a few candidates away, by describing an idyllic version of who you want to hire that does not represent who they are, even better. Like it wasn't for me. I mean, you just have, you need that brutal honesty. And I think that's that's hard for most people to do, you know, it's not a natural behavior. Cause we all want to, we all want to be as attractive as possible, we forget that a true brand is differentiated. Jen: Yeah. And honesty is a gift. And though sometimes it may not feel like a gift, you know, always put yourself in that person's shoes. Would you want to know the truth about a job if you're a match or not? Would you want to know the truth about, Hey here's, you know, feedback. Or, you know, here's a job that I know of that I think you're going to be a good fit for.And I would love to introduce you to the recruiter, you know, be a good citizen and, you know, go out there and treat candidates with ultimate respect and honesty, just like you would want to be treated. And you never know where those relationships are going to go. One of my closest friends that I've known for 15 years, I met through a cold call recruitment call.She was a recruiter for a competitor. She called and said, Hey, do you want to interview? And I'm like, Nope, I'm super happy here. And she stayed in contact with me. She sent me a Christmas card every year. And then when I became a recruiter, I was like, I'd never done the job. And I was like, well, I'm going to call the best recruiter I know. And so I called her and we've been friends for gosh, 13, 15 years since then. And it's nuts. I mean, we are super close and it was from a recruitment call and she treated me with respect and I treated her with respect and now we have a great friendship. Max: Did you ever do business with her? Jen: I actually started a retail networking group with her and retail networking solutions. And we hold events through the US and Canada. And we've gosh, we've been doing events for gosh, 10 years and we have a huge LinkedIn group with over 16,000 people in it. And we started that with a logo and, you know, that's it. And it's just a group that we manage and we have a good time doing, cause we just, we love the industry, but yeah, we did that together.Max: What's the group called on LinkedIn? Jen: Retail Networking Solutions. Max: Okay, we'll go check it out. Jen: Awesome. Max: Well, the events business probably took a small hit in 2020. How was 2020 for you as a trainer, coach, events organizer? Were you able to come out of it without too much hurt?Jen: We were so fortunate and we have so many great clients and every one of our clients were impacted in a different way. Some got busier, some got slower. I mean, everyone had their own unique impact based on their business. And we were actually pretty busy this year. And I think that with the business challenges, people saw the opportunity to provide additional education and training.You know, it was a tough year to be a leader. And great organizations recognize that and brought support in through coaching or through workshops. And we've always had a virtual, a primary lead virtual model at three O four. All of our leadership academies were all developed to be taught virtually. So we really didn't have to adapt much because it had always been. And we were very grateful that we were primarily a virtual business, for sure. I would say that definitely helped. Max: And the difference between doing something in person and virtually when you're in a training environment, could you tell us how you have to adapt the content or the audience when moving from the real world to the virtual? Jen: So I think one of the key things you have to recognize is the adult learner mind and take advantage of how the adult mind works. And it actually, in some ways works really well virtually. Because if you put an adult in a training room for three days straight, they're going to remember very little of what you taught them.But if you give them short one hour and two hour increments, and then you allow them to go use that information and then come back and learn more, use that information, come back and learn more. You're actually going to create more retention in the education. So all of our training programs are overall, you know, seven, six months, but it's strip content. And so you're learning stuff consistently, but then applying it. And so the learning actually sticks. And so if you're training virtually never do it more than, you know, 60 minutes is a good place, but never more than two hours at a time. And then allow that adult learner to go and do something with the material.Don't just train them for something and go, okay, well, I taught you something today. Talk to them about how they can apply it immediately because that's when retention of that information starts to stick. And that's where you start to see real behavior changes. Max: Okay, that's a good lesson for us. We just launched our own Academy in my company to teach recruiters how to use social media advertising to build their talent pool. We try to keep it very practical as the best part of the training, for sure. To give some hands-on training. And you said that your customers were reaching out for help for their managers, for their executives, in a year that's been transformative. Where you're dealing with transformation on the talent acquisition front in particular?Jen: So one of the pieces of the business that we have, one of our arms is a pre employment assessment. OAD, organization analysis and design. And so we saw heightened interest in that tool. You know, when you think about making hiring decisions, you can interview people for experience, you know, you can give them some situations, see how they would, handle it or say they'll handle it. But what you can't always interview for are the traits for a job. You know, whether that be the level of assertiveness, or level of detail, or decision style. And so. You know, the way jobs were being managed were different this year. And we had to evaluate what traits matched a job and, you know, along with skills and experience.And so I definitely saw a heightened interest in making really good hiring decisions. And then really understanding these employees once you hire them. How do you know how they work and how do you coach them based on who they are? And so our OAD business definitely saw some tickup because people really wanted to make great decisions and then do great things with the team. Once they hired them. Max: We also saw an increase in the use of automated assessment solutions and. That came alongside with an increase in volumes. Now that wasn't the case necessarily. I've spoken to a number of people who said actually volumes were flat or down in some industries in the US, but internationally with the increase in unemployment, there was an increase in the talent pool, and it just became impossible to screen everybody. So assessment platforms gained popularity this year. Jen: Yeah. I've worked with one of my clients and they're a large retailer and of course their call center and distribution center, you know, everyone was doing everything online. So they had to really ramp up those areas of their business and they had to find speed. They had to cut down on the time in which it took to touch a candidate. And so we did studies on success markers, you know, what are your top? What consistent traits do your top performers have and then looking at candidates and saying, okay, these candidates in that pre employment assessment have those markers. So let's start with those candidates. Let's start with candidates that we can predict have a higher probability of being successful so that they're happier employees. And so we use that to help reduce time with candidates and reduce how many candidates we were touching.Max: Yeah, works and makes sense. And then for the changes that occurred last year, do you believe there's a new normal? Are people going to come back to the office? Or do you think people are going to come back to the office? For most of the customers that you've dealt with? Do you think that some of the change for 2020 is permanent? Jen: I think there's going to be a blended approach and a more flexible approach. And I think that organizations who weren't flexible with work at home realize that people can work from home. And if you hire the right people, they can be trusted to do their job.But I think that, you know, people are valuing their time in a different way. And I think the smart companies are going to be very nimble and take the time to think about how to have a flexible work schedule or half the time in office, half the time from home or any of those types of models. But I think that the good companies are going to learn how to be much more flexible. Max: The younger the talents, the more you think they need coaching and mentoring and the more you need them to be there. And so that's all fun. The main metrics were, which people decide who needs to be in the office or not. Because the younger you are the less data points we have to work with. So we don't know exactly what you're going to be good at. You know, when you start out, is there a way to determine who's going to be a good remote worker from a young age?Jen: So I'm going to flip it on its head a little bit, and I'm going to say the determination is the leader. And, you know, a great leader who understands how to lead virtual teams. You know, it's not going to change anything for them. If they are great communicators and understand how to motivate, excite and lead virtual teams. Then your entire team, no matter where they are in their careers, is more likely going to be successful. And so I think it really depends on the leader's ability to be successful as a virtual leader. And it's interesting, you know, I have never had, I've never worked in office in my entire career.I've never had my entire team. I mean, I've led virtual teams since I was gosh, in my twenties. And so as a district manager, you know, in retail your stores are all over the place. And so it's interesting watching people talk about virtual, cause I'm like, is there another way to manage? That's all I've ever done.Max: Now that you mentioned it. I mean, most of everybody I've worked with in the last 20 years I've been doing the same. Same as you. Jen: Yeah. So it can be done. And it's really about the leader. Cause I've led people that are straight out of college and I've led people that have 30 years of experience virtually and it always boiled down to how good is your leader?Max: All right. But I mean, I did enjoy managing a sales team where everybody was in the same room as me and we had that comradery and all the drinks after work and all that.Well, I'm talking about the leadership hiring. Jen: Yes. Max: I want you to go to a dark place. A bad memory. A hire that you made where you invested love and trust. And was rewarded with a bitter lesson in life. Can you revisit that moment for the audience and tell us what lesson they should draw from it? Jen: You know, I've got a long list of those. I've been hiring people for a long time, but there's two that I'm thinking of, and now that I think of both of those people, there was a common thread and I think the common thread was, I put blinders on because I saw experience that I was impressed by, and I saw a lot of stories, or I assumed because of, you know, something that was on their resume, you know, automatically made them great if they work for this type of company, and my two toughest hires that I've ever been a part of, that was that's the common denominator.I let kind of that experience and that little rockstar status influence, you know, the substance of who that person really was. And you got to get into the substance of who those people truly are. And now those are my two worst hiring decisions, both come down to that. Max: Okay. And to go dig a little bit deeper into that, they had a deep industry expertise or deep functional expertise that blinded you to some psychometric or personality flaws. Jen: Yeah. They both had experience with really high retailers like really popular, like really nice. And, you know, they were the fancy, shiny toys out there. Right? And I thought, well, gosh, if they work there, surely they're fantastic. And you know, that doesn't always work. And so so yeah, so I've made that mistake. And one was kind of earlier in my career and one was later in my career. So it can happen at any time. Max: Yeah. And of course, when you make it later in your career, you're going to ask all those questions. Like you understand this is different than you have to adapt, but nonetheless, I mean, branding works. And just goes to show how powerful a strong employer brand is because it reflects positively on all the employees becoming much more attractive to hire. But of course, you know, the onus is on the employer as well to exercise that kind of judgment.So, you know, it's definitely a shared mistake. Yeah. Jen: Yeah, absolutely. Max: So who should contact you at a three O four coaching? When should they reach out to three O four coaching? And how did they get a hold of you? Jen: So we love to work with organizations who are passionate about creating environments, where individuals can grow their career and, you know, organization to bring in managers and see them as vice-presidents down the road.And that's the kind of companies we'd love to work with. We love to jump in early on the runway and help employers. You know, take this talent and grow it with them long term. And we love working with fast-growing companies. They have unique challenges and those unique challenges are our favorite.And, you know, we do that through, you know, all the talent strategy. You have to think about the strategy of how to get these teams up and going. And so, yeah, so you can reach out to email@example.com or you can connect with me directly on LinkedIn at Jen Thorton. Max: Great. If you want to make vice-presidents out of your managers, please contact Jen. She's got, she's got the key to their success. Jen: Absolutely. Max: Thanks for joining on the show, Jen, and wish you a brilliant 2021. Jen: Thank you so much for having me. It was a lot of funMax: That was Jen Thorton from three O four coaching. She reminded us that when you're in talent acquisition, nothing beats, actual operational experience, and really projecting yourself in the shoes of the operator when recommending a solution. In the case of Jen, that meant thinking about what each individual store would need and what combination of people would work best. I hope you enjoyed the interview. And if you want to hear more, remember to follow the recruitment hackers podcast. And to share it with your friends. Thank you.
28 minutes | 18 days ago
How Boston became the “Silicon Valley” of TA Tech - George Laroque from Unleashed
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush, the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: Hello, welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. I'm your host Max Armbruster and today on the show, I'm delighted to welcome. George LaRocque who is SVP of insights for unleashed. Welcome to the show, George. George: Thanks Max. Thanks for having me.Max: Pleasure. George and I met in the real world, a real world event with real people you can touch and feel, right? Well you're not supposed to touch him, but that was in 2018, I think. And, back then unleashed was, I think the leading events company in an HR and TA tech, or one of the leading ones. Anyway, I mentioned you've had a pretty, shocking year. George: Yeah. That's to say the least, and I'm sure everybody who's receiving this podcast will nod in agreement. When we met, I think I was partnering with unleash, and my involvement has increased over the last couple of years. So I actually jumped on board in the middle of this craziness, as unleashes moved the business to the media, given that we get to your point, we can't get together physically at the moment.Max: Right, right. And can you tell us, for the audience, a little bit about your bio, how you ended up being a voice of TA tech? For many of us knowing. Are you a practitioner basically? George: Yeah, I've been in this market. It's just over 30 years now, which is crazy. I spent the first 10 as a practitioner, I came out of the staffing world. Like many people make their transition. I moved from the agency side, where I was working in tech just at the end of the eighties, early nineties, and then moved over 10 years, moved on to what would have been the client side, into the employer side. Then started a consulting firm. What would have been now called an RPO in the Boston area, focused on internet startups and our customers were all involved... Customer was called the monster board. We did all their hiring in the Boston area for sales. ThreeComma, a Datacom company in the US back at the beginning of like, you know, TCP, IP and networking protocols.And we did engineering for them, but through that, I jumped onto the tech side. So I spent 10 years in HR technology and I was employee number 10 or 11 at a company called Brass Ring and took them through to 50 million. I had a couple of good runs and another one people might recognize, I ran global sales for Bull Horn, through their first big VC ramp. Yep. And then I was a general manager at telemetry, which actually was Higher Desk and turned into telemetry and now they are part of Jobvite. And, 10 years ago I started in this advisory and analyst world. And that's what brings us here, it's been an evolution, up to date. And so that's where I am. Max: It sounds like you've had some pretty stressful jobs. You were well-prepared for 2020, for a stressful year. Because you were there when beating salesmen Bullhorn was going through its rapid growth phase, I guess from 10 to 100 or 10 to 50, maybe. George: That's about right. And you know, to go from, you know, zero customers at brass ring to 50 million in a few years. Right? Yeah. And then to watch the bubble burst in 2000 and be right in the, you know, like sitting on the bubble when it burst then the financial crisis of 2008. I would say the thing that prepares you just in a general sense is stress, but also you get instincts for a down market, you know, that's the part that we've seen before. But even that's different here. It's spotty, like your people are either drowning in. You know, overwhelmed with business, or they can't find it. And there's very little in between. So this is unusual, but yeah, I would say, it didn't make me any more confident than the next person, but I felt like I had some instincts to fall back on.Max: Yeah. Yeah. I guess, in March and April, I was trying to, yeah. Some up those memories from 2008 because I was a business owner back then already. And I remember the bad news just kinda following each other. It was bad news like for six months straight.You just never see the end of it. And so 2020. I think most people knew if I head back into March that, okay, this isn't going to be a bad year. It's going to stay with us for a while. And, you know, it's hard to know exactly if we're out of this yet, but it teaches you to be more conservative. I'm sure people have had enough of the gloom. I hear about those businesses that can't keep up with demand. You mentioned some companies are doing super well right now. What are they focused on? George: I would say, well in the HR tech space, there are two types of companies that have done well. One, would be those tech providers who were really exclusively marketing into a really large enterprise, and had an established brand, established product. The larger employers have while they may have furloughed or had a reduction in force, you know, within recruiting or HR, some percentage of their workforce. They've also invested in some digital transformation. So we're seeing that, and that's just a fancy way of saying they're upgrading their systems, in some cases. Max: So the guy from the eighties, it's coming back. George: There you go. Yup. They've crossed the chasm. So there was definitely a tapping of the brakes, you know, April, May. Big companies weren't buying software at that time for a moment. And then, I think as we moved into later in the spring, early summer, some of the vendors that are in that segment had some of their best quarters, deals were accelerated or deals came back to life.The other type, even where you would expect companies that were marketing into the SMB or middle market would have been hit hard. And that's true. If they were focused with customers, if they were lucky enough to have companies in industries that were, let's say a grocery or a healthcare, or logistics or tech, they did better than they should. There were some vendors who cut staff and then grew at a rate greater than they expected,. and which is, you know, it's been such a difficult time for everyone but a lot of folks, a lot of vendors we're really at an early stage, they didn't have any momentum, maybe the product wasn't mature, the point solution. There were some really, tough tales to tell that came out of... There's just bad timing, for them, they weren't able to get out into the market and get that momentum, to sustain. Max: You kind of have to be past that certain level of maturity to survive a crisis like this. You are a young team perhaps, and I don't mean like literally more than 12 years old. I mean like, you know, to a point where you have a solid base of customers.George: Yeah, absolutely. Max: And we've seen, in the industry, a lot of consolidation, I guess not everybody in my audience is going to geek out on TA tech news and find out who gets bought by who. But that's your world and, maybe you can tell us, what are some of the negative trends we're seeing. On my side, I saw that there was a lot of movement from companies that were doing video. Video used to be a category. But I think now video is more of a feature that everybody has. That was my main takeaway. George: Yep. I'd agree with that. I think the reason I tell practitioners or leaders in talent acquisition, they should watch both, what's happening in investment and with consolidation is to have a sense of what's coming their way. So if you're looking for the emerging technology, I'm not even talking about the specific vendors but, you get a sense over the period of, you know, a few quarters as to where investments are going on emerging tech, emerging solutions. It might not be emerging tech. It might not be that it doesn't have the bells and whistles, like something conversational, but you may see that, for example, right now there's a lot going into analytics and process management around recruiting.You might see not a lot is going into job boards anymore at the moment, or marketplaces which surprisingly have led the category for years. You'd see a lot going into internal mobility and matching and those areas. So you get a sense of what's coming at the same time for consolidation if you're using point solutions and platforms, you particularly get a sense of what those capabilities are at a platform level. So if you're using an ATS, what moves are these vendors making? And if you're thinking about your tech stack in the next one - three years, I think it's a good Indicator for trends and you need to solve the problems that you have and seize the opportunities that you need to seize and look for the Cape. And it's not one size fits all out there, but these are things that I think are helpful. In that way.Max: A lot of the practitioners got into recruitment for the same reasons you did probably. To be on the sell side and busy dealing with people. And, you know, buying tech came as an add on, not the main thing and a bit of a chore. And, I think last year, people were still. They had a little fun budget that they can spend on where they can try a few initiatives every year. And then some of those customers would sign on because they needed to show initiative. They needed to show I'm going to try something different this year and it looks good on my resume. And this year, maybe that's not so important anymore. It's more about doing more with less and asking more from your existing vendors. George: Yeah. Oh, a hundred percent. Another good reason to keep your eye on tech and what's happening, in our market and outside of our market, you know, what's happening in the world of technology? And I'm not one to ever recommend that you would modify, let's say a solution from outside of recruiting, into recruiting. That never goes well, it never scaled. But yeah doing more with less is something that as I mentioned, you know, there have been a lot of layoffs. There are probably fewer recruiters in any given company and those recruiters are asked to do more and, having a sense of what's available to help accomplish that goal is a good thing. And it tends to look like, I think companies are either forced to address the need to automate tasks and what would be administrative to get the recruiters and the leaders in TA focused, you know, where they need to be. On with candidates, candidate engagement, working within the organization, with managers, working the process you know, they're forced to do it because they're doing more with less, or they're taking that step back.I think a lot of larger organizations that are investing in technology right now, it's, it's a way to justify some of the headcount that they're keeping they're implementing these technologies, evaluating these technologies but at the end of the day it's the same goal, which is, you know, how do we get to where freeing up the recruiters, the operators, to be on that process and driving that process and not drowning in it. Max: Yeah. I can say from my experience, on our side, that the volume of candidates and leads process for the recruiter has tripled over the last six months. And obviously you just can't do this same thing you did before if you have three times the volume you did before. You have to change a little bit, the way you do things, because you adapt to your environment.You were saying job boards, the big hits, I think most suppliers there and with the compounding effects of Facebook and Google driving also traffic, at least in the high volume space, the driving traffic, a lot of those traffic is free. I imagined, 2021 is probably not going to be an amazing year for indeed, and zip and those guys. Yes, there'll be some recovery. Right. I saw that Zip had some recovery in Australia in Q4. But I want to go back to, you're telling us about your early story. You're not in Boston anymore. Are you? Geroge: No I'm in New Jersey. Like most people in New Jersey, I'm, you know, 40 minutes out of New York city. Yeah. Max: Boston, for those who don't come from Boston, it's not necessarily seen as a tech hub, but I found out over the years that there was kind of the TA tech hub of the world 20 years ago. And I guess still today. Can you tell us about how'd that happen and give us a little bit of the history?George: Sure. So it really, back in those days, you know, Silicon Valley's was always the hub, right? It was always where it all sort of exploded, but there used to be maps that had, it was a map of the US and it had Boston and they shrunk the rest of the country. And then it had Silicon Valley. And you had your tech belt. It was the highways that went around, the two highways, one 28 and four 95 that went around Boston and all the different tech shops that were either in... Cambridge was a hub for a lot of startups. MIT is in Cambridge, Harvard's in Cambridge.And then out toward the suburbs, you had a lot of larger campuses for tech shops and a couple of the larger, employment advertising shops were out. Emerging shops, innovative shops were out of Boston. And I would say that the first one to really explode and drive traction around HR tech was Adyen, the founder of Adyen was Jeff Taylor who started Monster. And so, I was at that point running a consulting shop. We had about 60 people all around Boston. And, we were dealing with some really some of the first e-commerce shops. And, I mentioned three common others, and Jeff Taylor would show up with a salesperson. Carol McCarthy was her name and they would offer us, you know, we partnered with them and we would bring free postings to our customers. And we would argue with them at the time about you've gotta be on the internet. You've gotta be on the web. And they wouldn't. It was a really fun time because we took employers to the web.We created their career sites and we. Hook them up with, places like what was called the monster board back then. and at that time, the ATS market was run by a couple of shops called Resumex and Rex Track. They own the large enterprise and larger middle market on-premise software and you had a brass ring, which came out of the Boston area. It grew out of a resume processing company. So all the job fairs, all the resumes that came into employers were on paper. And you had these systems like Resumex and Rex Track and others. You would literally go through a factory process that gets scanned optical character recognition turned into data, uploaded in a total QC process.And then, as the web was emerging or able to take applications to the web. That's where the Brass Ring emerged. And there were some other shops on the West coast that emerged, but didn't, you know, Taleo, which was recruitment software, came out of Canada and then came down. I want to say through Chicago to, ultimately to Silicon Valley, but it was, yeah, the Boston area was teaming with, you know, early job boards early recruitment technology, this was 97, 98 to 2000.Max: It sounds like Monster had a key role to play in that. George: They really did you know, like any success story. It was a combination of vision. so they could see where the market was going and how this was going to evolve before really anybody was seeing it. And timing, they were there, and hard work. Right. And they had some good ideas. Where do they end up going? And that's a brand people love to hate on and that's fine. But they were a major player and they really helped create the space.Max: They got big and then other problems appeared. But I mean, at the time in the late nineties, They picked that weird grand, they called themselves Monster. Everybody had a much more corporate sounding name back then. The internet was just getting started, all those dotcoms and, I think they did it a little bit on purpose to say, you know either you're with us, the incident folks or you're against us, you're part of the old guard. And we don't need you as a customer. It was a bit of a, you know, the boldness, the choice of brand. George: Yeah, we would do all their sales hiring. They were on the, their first office was, the second floor over a Chinese takeout restaurant. And you know, we'd go on site, spend an hour. A couple of hours with them, with the consultants we had there, you'd leave. And you'd just smell like Chinese food from being in the office. And then as he started to grow, I remember, telling people that they would have to, you know, don't worry they're expanding. They're going to have a facility, but there are two trailers in the parking lot for now. And then just those, you know, these sorts of things that, I'm sure there are people out there somewhere that worked in those trailers. Well we put them there. Max: Yeah. And so with the universities and then maybe circumstance having this gentleman's at Taylor and starting this company in Boston for no other reason than he was there. And then, many of the alumni that moved on to start their own companies. And today I think there are a number of companies that are there, including your old employer of Bullhorn. I think phenom people are quoted there. And then a number of other companies. Was SmashFly as well in Boston?George: Yep. They were founded there. In fact the original founder of SmashFly, Mike Hennessy, was probably employee number three or four at Brass Ring. And so we worked closely together for several years and, you know, like any of those shops. And there are still people that when I've...Back in those days when we could go to events, Brass Ring is now part of IBM. And, if I go by the IBM booth, I see old friends and they've really never left. They've just gone from Brass Ring that connects to IBM. But we used to joke and say there are probably, you know, 300 people that are like the core of the industry. And they just move around and a lot of other people sort of come and go, but there are a lot more than that now, I think.Max: That's true. You do see that. And we hear that in your story is that these companies don't just die, they just merge and they move from one animal to the next. And this is sort of a Darwinian experience. Right. So it's see how it evolves. And they changed names. Like Hot Jobs do you remember that one? George: Yeah. HotJobs got acquired by Yahoo. Max: Oh, yes. George: And, you know, it was Yahoo hot jobs and Dan Finnegan, who was the founder of Jobvite, I know, was involved with Yahoo hot jobs and I believe the founder of, Avature came out of one of those groups. You know, early on, when you look at Brass Ring, it had, newspapers behind it.So the newspapers were, they had Excel partners out of Silicon Valley, very small stake, but over a hundred million came in from the Washington post, the Tribune companies can net newspapers, which is USA today. So newspapers were hedging, their bets against, you know, the classified business was starting to dwindle.They were looking at how that was going to go online. They also created an advertising network, which Knight Ridder became a part of. Which is where career builder grew out of, which is also where, Dan Finnegan came out of that Knight, Ridder group. So you've got different camps from the late nineties like the Post's Tribune camp and then the night Ritter camp, and then a few big brands that came out of that, that were all different. In some cases, the same newspapers in different investing groups that were putting their chips on the table, sort of hedging their bets based on what they were expecting to see with changes, and impact on their classified ad revenue. They didn't do any of it fast enough or go hard enough as we've all seen. But that's an interesting subplot to the whole, the whole thing as well.Max: With your unique perspective of seeing people moving from place to place and companies evolving, it makes sense that you would be working in automation now. Which is, you know, a great networker and a place where the industry meets.And I think your story is one that can serve as inspiration for people who end up in recruitments and say that I don't want to be interviewing people for the rest of my life, or I don't want to be doing the same thing over and over again. Yeah you can move into technology. You can move into sales, you can move into media, and touch a lot of things and it prepares you for a rich career. And, and if you stick around long enough, then you can see the same faces over and over again. George: Good, good point. You know what? I used to think that, but it was just my great timing. You know and of course there was some of that, I entered the space and the internet was emerging and the web emerged and on demand, you know, cloud-based technologies emerged and I'm passionate about technology. So I was in the right place at the right timeAnd the other thing that's true is that I think the profession has evolved and emerged. What technology has done and what, you know, changes that all businesses have experienced is it really demonstrates how I think recruiting can really have a massive impact.And I think if you look beyond the matches that you're making and the interviews that you're scheduling and if you sort of step back and think about the impact you can have on the business. And if you pursue that internally in your current role or in your career, moving to the next role, there are a lot of places to go with that.If you can see the impact that recruiting and recruitment technology and talent acquisition can have on the market and on any given employer. I think that's another thing that I was, there to see was sort of how this all, you know, has unfolded and I've been lucky to watch.Max: It's so important to go back to that feeling of I'm helping people get a job and, you know, a good year, a bad year, and you know, God knows 2020 wasn't a great year, but it's still up to this, you know the industry and our people to think: I'm going to help somebody get their next game.George: Yeah.Max: I guess that's why when you go network with people who've been in the industry for 20 years they're nice folks to be around because they have that purpose in their career. And I hope for the listeners who are in the early stages of their career they can see that, it's not that easy to find purpose that once you have it and you sort of hold onto it, George: Yeah good point.Max: To wrap it up, I'd like to give you a chance to maybe promote some of your upcoming events perhaps with Unleash or tell people how to get a hold of you. George: Well, you can find unleash at unleashgroup.io, and you'll find me there. And the HR winds was my previous brand. It's still there. There's still content there, reports there, unleash is really, for the foreseeable future. It's all about media and content. So everything's there. So the. content about recruiting, about recruiting technology and the rest of the employee experience and HR spectrum, is there as well. So I would encourage people to go take a look and I'm sure they'll find something interesting if they're listening to this podcast.Max: Absolutely. I go there myself. George interviews some of the industry leaders and has unique data on how the market is changing. So if you want to be ahead of the curve and know what's going to hit you a year or so now that's the place to go and check it out. Thanks so much, George, for joining us and for reminiscing on the old days. I am actually quite happy to know that there's now a record of those souvenirs about the Boston era that has, you know, foundational importance to the world of TA tech saved on our blog.George: Excellent. Thanks for having me. I had a lot of fun.I hope you enjoyed my interview with George as much as I did. George is a real historian of the talent acquisition tech space and from the evolution and meanderings of the industry, we can all get inspiration to constantly reinvent ourselves and renew our industry. If you enjoyed it and you're up for more subscribe to our podcast and please share with friends.
25 minutes | a month ago
Remote Hiring: Global Approach with a Regional Flavor - Aarthi Rajasekaran from VDart Inc.
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. A show about innovation, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: Good morning. Good afternoon. Hello everybody. Welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. I'm your host Max Armbruster. And today I'd like to welcome the show Aarthi Rajasekaran from VDart Inc. Aarthi, did I pronounce that right?Aarthi: You did Max!Max: Okay, cool. Awesome. So Aarthi, please introduce yourself to our audience. I believe VDart is in the recruitment space, helping companies who are, doing contingent hiring, in the technology space. Does that sum things up correctly? Aarthi: Absolutely. Yes. Now VDart is an information technology, staffing and solutions company. And we incorporated back in 2007 and from then our growth has been exponential. We are a global firm and our customers are the ones that have taken us to spaces. I served them as their director of procurement and strategic sourcing. So record that recruitment is very near and dear to me as well. Max: The procurement in your case is sourcing talents, right? And sourcing talent through third-party vendors. Aarthi: Right. Max: Okay. Aarthi: I base, I manage the contracts, the compliance, all those mandatory components that keep us going. Max: Okay. 2020 was disruptive for everybody and perhaps, for some of the traditional staffing firms that were more reliant on their Rolodex and maybe more reliant on events and doing things in person, you know, which is maybe like the old way of doing recruitment. Those, those probably suffered the most because when you could not meet in person, then what do you have left? And I believe you do... you're a global company with offices everywhere, but you have a good portion of your hiring that takes place in India, right? Aarthi: We do. Yes. Our hire operations are from India. We have close to about 600 people based out of India who are our engine. They are the ones that are pumping in resumes for us day in and day out. About 500 of them are just recruiters who are the backbone for our company.Max: Those recruiters, a lot of them are physically based in India, but are they organized by geography, focused on different markets?Aarthi: Right. That's how we operate. All of them are based in India and there is sometimes a need for our customers to have local presence as well. So we have recruited all over, but the majority of our recommendations are based on India, and they are based on geography. The time zone is for that particular geography. That's how they will operate. Max: Well, I guess you look at the micro dynamics of 2020, and now this, this kind of business model works great. You know, it was harder to do business beforehand because you were competing with people who had the boots on the ground, but now everything is remote. So you can work from anywhere, that gives you a competitive edge, I guess. Right? Aarthi: It does. It's always been a competitive edge for us specifically because we had the vision of bringing in fresh talent, fresh out of college and groomed them, and trained them in recruiting. Those are fresh blood that always have the thirst to learn and achieve. So that model always worked for us really well. That operation is based on talent from Richie, which is a small college town in India, in the Southern part of India. And our recruiters are either from the town or from a neighboring town, nothing beyond that. It is very unconventional for a staffing firm to have its base in such...Max: I'm sorry, I interrupted you. It's very conventional for our staffing firms to be close to the uni? So you say? Aarthi: No, it's very unconventional for a company of our size to be operating out of a small town. Max: Yes. And I think that, probably that unconventional choice served you well, because for the big metropolis, the top, the big cities have become impossible to live in. Right? And it's, you know, I was there in one of the last trips I took before we were all locked down. I was in Delhi and Pune, it's a little bit cloudy and foggy down there sometimes. Aarthi: You are talking about the north, I'm talking about the Southern tip of India. Max: The North was very polluted. Anyway, it was hard to travel on. I know some employers were using the fact that you can live in a second or third tier or a smaller city that would improve their quality of life. And that was one of the selling points. Less traffic, less smog. Yeah. But going back to those 500 recruiters, so you like them hungry, young, curious, energetic. And then, you were talking to me before we started the show on the importance of knowing your local markets. So is that part of the training that goes into these young young minds? I'm kind of imagining in my head, you have a team dedicated for Latin America and one for Europe and one for the US. Is that how it works?Aarthi: Yes. That's how it works. Max: Okay, cool. So, then you teach them the cultural differences. Aarthi: We do. We teach them the cultural differences, how to talk, how to address people. Everything goes up, it plays a major role when you're talking to potential candidates. You need to understand their culture. You need to respect what they believe, and you have to keep them engaged. That's how you build a bond that you are gonna deliver a candidate to a client. That way the intern may choose to work for you.And it is so important to create those candidate experiences. I mean, that is the industry buzzword these days, unless there is a good candidate experience, people these days have so many opportunities. So they always value who treated me better, and that is the opportunity they lean towards. So it is so important for us to impart that knowledge in each and every recruiter of ours on how to understand the cut-up candidate.A candidate is no less than a customer to us. So treat them with respect, give them what they are asking for, answer their questions, be respectful. Those are the basics, we want to keep talking about them. That way it does not get lost over a period of time.Max: It sounds, from listening to you, I feel like there's going to be employment for many decades for recruiters. The kind of work that you're describing is not one that will be automated and replaced by robots anytime soon. Is that your feeling?Aarthi: Absolutely not. I mean, at the end of the day, people buy from people, people don't buy from robots, so it is important to have human connections. Although sourcing can be automated. I mean, AI’s an RBA has been playing a large role in automating certain features, but taking the human element out, I don't see that happening. It is so important to have that touch point, human touch point for you to really feel connected. It is so important to have the connection between an employee and an employer before somebody comes on board.Max: Since you focus on your, let's say, your external family, your extended family, the recruiters that are not directly working for you that are part of your suppliers. Give us an idea. Are we talking about, 5 suppliers, or 50, or 500? What's what's the range?Aarthi: A little lower 500. So the way we work with our suppliers is, any contract that we signed with the supplier we do not want that to be a one-time gig. How is it that we can optimize a particular supplier? Understand what it is that they bring to the table? Are they unique? Do they have skills that we often sought out for? Are they good in training and deployment? Are they specializing in any niche technologies? Based on that, we evaluate our suppliers and try to partner with them on a larger scale. So we have suppliers, who signed up, during inception. And even today we worked with them. We know who to reach out to for what technology, and as we grew, our suppliers grew along with us.They get first shot to fill out requirements. If they have candidates, they reach out to us. We cross sell skills, whatever they have on their bench to our clients as well. Sometimes even before we get a requirement from a client, they can foresee that there is going to be a job opening coming up and it is easier for us to save time and effort.Max: Does that work under what's described as the MSP (managed service provider). Where you'll hold a master contract and then there are some sub contracts? Aarthi: It's technically not MSP. It is more on a vendor... The terminology used is corporation to corporation engagement. Max: Okay, great. You said you've worked with some of your suppliers, that you have hundreds and hundreds of suppliers, and some of them you've started working with them from inception. You've seen the ones that have grown. Which ones have suffered in 2020 after this pandemic and which ones did well?Aarthi: I would say this is such an unforeseen situation we all are in and everybody has taken the plunge. It is not easy to say that some did not suffer and some suffer. Everybody had to come together as a staffing community to help each other out. When there were layoffs happening. We were trying to figure out if there is any other engagement that we could take the candidate from the supplier and put them on. We all partnered in it together. Everybody did well. Crisis called and everybody was ready to help, ready to work along with. The rates were reduced. Suppliers were okay working with us on that. They did not put their foot down. Everybody did their fair share and everybody came through with flying colors. We are so agil we can make things happen!Max: Okay. It sounds like generally it's been rough for everybody, you're saying. that, but then which are the vendors that are best positioned for tomorrow. That we're able to come out, winning some market share. That have a bigger market, a bigger share of the business today than they didn't 10 months ago.Aarthi: Quite a lot of suppliers. We are running a preferred supplier program now as well. We are in the third phase of the launch. So we are handpicking a few suppliers for one particular engagement based on how they performed on the previous engagements.So based on the evaluation, certain metrics went into the evaluation and we are going to be handpicking about a hundred suppliers exclusively for this engagement to be working very closely with us. Max: Yeah. So it's all performance-based, it's you know, I guess a fill rate, time to fill, cost per hire, that kind of stuff. Aarthi: Everything plays a large role. Maybe their SLS is what is important. Whether they are delivering on time. Those are a few key areas that also go into a vendor evaluation. Max: Aarthi, if you were in the seller's shoes now, you are no longer holding that wonderful position of power, director of global procurement, but now you're one of them. And you have to start your own firm today. You're just starting from scratch. It's just you and maybe your husband, and you are starting a business together. What kind of a recruiting business would you start today to give yourself the best chance of success? Aarthi: It's my personal opinion. I wouldn't get into recruiting. Max: Okay. Okay. Aarthi: There are a number of companies that are in recruiting. Identify what is the niche that is missing in the market. A product, it could be software. It could be a RPA. So those are the kinds of damage that I would take. I am in the recruiting space, my husband is in the technology space. So probably a hybrid of something of that nature is what we would be doing. Max: Okay. Yeah. Your earlier example of picking a hot area, hot technology like RPA. I guess, you know, you were saying earlier that sourcing is something that can be to a great degree, automated. There's a good amount of sourcing that can be done automated. So if you and your husband are starting a recruiting technology company tomorrow, you're saying, we're not going to be in staffing. We're going to be actually going into recruiting. I'm imagining that's the area in which it would go, but let's focus on the staffing world per se. And because we did say there is a role for humans, there is that human connection, and that will not be automated. So within that world, you know, which staffing firms are going to perform better. Are they going to be the ones that are focused on the right keywords? Or the ones that are focused on the right geography? Aarthi: I would say it is more on the people, that is how a company can stand out compared to the other. It could be the large recruiting stacking companies, which have done well, but a smaller company could change the industry by giving the experience of which a candidate never had. Currently, the market is not the same, like what it was a decade back. It's not just apply, apply, apply. Now it is more on a candidate picking a company to work for. They want to see what the company does. Is there a purpose? Is it a purpose driven organization? The millennials and gen Z, they are all focusing on what is it that the company would do for me? If I go for them, is there a vision for me? Do we have any common ground? Those are key things that need the human element as I said. Unless a human connects and talks to a human about, Hey, this is the purpose of a company. This is our vision. This is what we do. It's not age and people are going to be selecting companies based on their experience. I would say companies would succeed if they are focusing on the right candidates, giving them the experience that they are looking for and connecting the right person with the right opportunity. Max: Is the candidate experience better this year than it was in previous years? You know, the fact that now people are not expected to physically come into an office. Has that improved the experience for candidates?Aarthi: It has. I mean, the industry has shifted a little bit. Organizations, which said no remote work, or work from home, have adapted to remote work. There has been a shift, but has it changed the candidate experience? Well, to an extent, yes, because these are technologies, the space that we are in is primordially technology. So talking to them about what the company does, what the project is about. It inspires them to pick the opportunity. And a little bit of empathy in the conversation goes a long way. Trust me. Max: Right. Yeah. I've heard a lot of recruiters say, empathy, care and you know, showing how they care about the employees around the coronavirus has become a key communication strategy for most employers. I've also heard that in India in particular, staffing firms have struggled to have lost market share compared to the overall size of the market. A bigger portion went to work, you know, without stepping from basically hired directly, because more hiring was happening through digital, less events and career fairs. Do you confirm these trends? That 2020 has shrunk the market a little bit in India for some of the staffing industry? Aarthi: Not to my knowledge. I mean, There are certain organizations that have done well, in fact, V Dart, we did not have any layoffs. In fact, 2020 was the peak of our hiring. We've got talent that we always wanted to be a part of our company. It was easy for us to bring that talent on board. I would not say that has been common for every organization. It is the organization’s approach what makes the difference.Max: For the kind of talent that you're hiring, high-tech talents. It's always going to be quiet in high demand? I understand that, but I imagined for... Maybe the reason I got this news from the industry is because it was a little bit more on the high volume side and entry level and for staffing firms that were working more in the high volume space where the margins are smaller and the margins got even smaller this year. It became even harder to do business. But you know, at the higher end of the market for more experienced staff, I guess things remain competitive. Aarthi: Indeed there is talent available. Of course you have to pay the pretty penny for the right talent. The market did change and margins have shrunk, but for organizations who have the muscle power, it is more of an investment that they are doing for their 2021 plan. That's how I would put it. Max: Yeah. Did you change the way you work in 2021? Did your company roll out some new process and new technology to respond to the changes in the market.?Aarthi: Well, we have been doing everything that we planned for 2020. Of course there was a little disruption early in the year, but that hasn't slowed us down. We are in the midst of our product launch as well. We are developing softwares which we plan to do for 2020 so 2021 is going to be a launch for the new product as well. So yes, our growth has been consistent and our plans are going through, although there was a little slow down, we are still on the right track. 2021 looks fantastic for us.Max: For listeners who are... Most of our listeners are in the talent aquisition space, and some of them may be considering a career in… You know, preparing the bang themselves for the future. What would be your advice to advise somebody who is a new recruiter or talent acquisition professional, in their twenties, what kind of training should they be seeking in order to stay on the cutting edge and be competitive in the next 10 years?Aarthi: The first thing is, learn about the requirement that you're going to be working on. Do not just blindly dive into the market to find the talent, talent is available. All you have to do is understand what is the skill all about which the industry is using? Just to get a little insight about the project. So when you have a conversation with a candidate, it's going to be more of a meaningful conversation and you don't have to be spending hours on the dice and monsters to identify the right candidate. You just have to understand the requirements, go to the market, have a meaningful conversation. You'll be able to figure out. Always be hungry. No knowledge is unimportant. Everything is important. Talk to your peers. The requirement that you work in could be different from what the other person is working on. Have these conversations. It is important to have those conversations. Max: Yeah. It gives you an edge, and it also prepares you for the future. And next time, you know, every requirement that comes in, there's the immediacy, it'll probably come again. And so the deeper your knowledge, the more you're prepared, so stay very curious about the areas. It's impossible to know everything. So specialization, I guess, is also good advice. Right? Okay, great. Aarthi, It has been a pleasure. We're up on time and I'd like to ask you. How can our audience get in touch with you or with V darts? What's the best way?Aarthi: They can go to our website and fill out the contact form. I would get an email and the consent person will be responding based on their area of interest. Max: Okay. www.vdarts.com?Aarthi: That is correct!Max: Okay, great. Well, thanks. Pleasure meeting you. Thanks for joining us on the podcast. Aarthi: Thank you so much for listening. Thank you so much, Max, for the opportunity. Happy recruiting. Max: Yeah, recruiting never stops.That was Aarthi from VDart, a director of procurement and strategic sourcing, telling us about some of the secrets of our business and reminding us that from here on out it doesn't matter where you're based. As long as you put in the time to adapt to the culture of the market you serve, you can serve all global markets from any location in the world.And her business has done a great job. Of bringing young talent into the industry, teaching them about recruiting and teaching them about different places, different markets. Hope you enjoyed it. If you'd like to hear more, I've got more interviews coming your way on recruitmenthackerspodcast.comSo please subscribe and share with the friends!
31 minutes | 2 months ago
Geeking out with the competition - Recruiter Chatbots with Dave Mekelburg from Wade and Wendy”
Welcome to the recruiting hackers podcast. A show about innovation, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: Hello, and welcome back to the recruitment hackers podcast. Today I have a very special guest on the show. I normally talk to people from the practitioner side. But today I have the pleasure, the awkward pleasure of talking to what may be perceived by others as a peer or competitor as the chief of staff for Wade and Wendy.Wade and Wendy is one of the early companies that got into the conversational AI for recruitment space and I first heard about this company, I think five years ago at the very beginning. Dave Mekelburg is the chief of staff and joining us today for chats, which will be a little different and a little bit more about, I suppose, about chatbots. Right Dave? If that's okay with you. Welcome to the show!Dave: Great to be here. Always excited to talk about chatbots. I don't get to do it enough. Especially in this context. And I will say, you know, I cheat a little bit. So I'm our chief of staff and also our head of people. So I am technically a practitioner.I do oversee our recruiting and hiring. So I can speak a little bit to that. So I won't be a total foreigner, but I'm very excited to talk about chatbots and talk about, you know, what's happening in the recruitment mission: “hacking”. Max: Awesome. Were you the guy who came up with a job title conversational designer?Dave: Oh, that's a good question! Max: I picked that out from a blog post. By your CEO. And I saw that conversational designer and I fell in love with it so much that I immediately posted for that job, myself at Talkpush, you know, within a week. And I started collecting applications. We hire a bunch now, and it has taken off, and I always thought maybe you guys came up with the term.Dave: Oh, I would love to take credit for that. Let me think where we first probably encountered it. So there were some early, going way back in time, like PullString, which was like a Pixar backed, conversation design platform. We had met their team and they had somebody, they call it a conversation designer. I think Apple, in Siri, I think a lot of this Siri team was starting to use that phrase. But you know, certainly when we posted that job it got some ice, because people were like, conversation designer? I've never heard of that. Max: Yeah. We got the same thing. And I also... One of my heads of conversational design, she said that when she changed her job title from product manager to conversational designer, the volume of interest she got on LinkedIn also showed up. Considerably. So it's, it's not a good retention strategy, maybe a good hiring strategy. Conversational designer. Great place. A great way to advertise, but also not a great retention strategy because people will come out and try to hire them away from you.And so maybe if I'm lucky, I'll find out who came up with that term. And I'll be on a goose chase, Dave I'll start looking at the people at Siri or at Apple to see if I can find the person who coined that. But yeah. Definitely chatbots have been around for longer than we've been around.Dave: That's definitely true, but they've, It's the rate of change... And I think you've probably seen us over the last few years. The rate of change has been astronomical and just in terms of the penetration, the familiarity from the average person that's interacting with the chatbot. When we first started, we were doing user testing and, you know, having people chat with the bot about work. Like talk to me about what it is you want to do and what it is you'd like to do.And it was such a novel experience for people. And now, you know, really up and down the... You know, across the country, in every corner. Everyone has some experience with a chabot, whether it's, you know, through a bank teller or through a customer service bot, you know, the depth of penetration has gotten beyond people that are interested in technology or people that are interacting with, you know, the hot new FinTech startup, things like that. And really gotten into the hands of the average person so that, you know, when we started, we built so much into the experience to make sure that this was intuitive and, it didn't scare people that, you know, might have some emotional, anxiety about talking to a bot about AI and automation in their lives. And get them to put, you know, trust in helping us get them the right opportunity and we're in between them and, you know, the right job.And that's the responsibility that we take really seriously. And we had to build an experience where people would trust and believe that we would guide them appropriately. Given that it's a technology experience. And I do think over the last few years, that comfort, that familiarity just looking at the feedback that we get and things like, that there's way less like, wow I've never seen this before, too what a high quality conversational experience. We get feedback about the conversation design and that's just something that I think a few years ago, your average, you know, sales person and applying for an entry level job wasn't leaving feedback about our bots conversations design. Max: I got completely thrown off. You're putting me back to 2018 or 2017, I was in India meeting with, I think it was Expedia, and I was presenting our technology chatbots for recruitment. And this gentleman, this engineer that I met started showering me with questions about natural language processing and how intensely have we mapped that out? And what is our taxonomy of not being tense? And I thought, where did I step into, I don't know, half the words he's using. But I haven't had that experience too often. Still most people they're past the point of, I've never worked with a chatbot before. They still feel like it's a bit of a dirty word, and that it may ruin the candidate experience, but obviously if they're working with us they are past that as well. I guess it's a bit of a marketing job to change the perception and say, well it's not a chat bot, it's a conversational agent or, you know, it's a virtual agent, just different ways of renaming it. Our system is very much built on the handover to the human and having a hybrid experience, I think, and this is perception. I haven't really tested your product, but I think Wade and Wendy comes from a deep tech expertise where you have PhDs who work in your company. And so you're building intelligence that works without the human intervention, perhaps. Dave: Yeah. So, the notion of human intervention is a really interesting one. So let me lay out for you, a little bit of how we approach this problem. Right? And where we started from. We started from a place of recruiting that we saw. Our CEO and founder is pretty adventurous for deep tech and wearables for manufacturing and farming, you know, deep marketing tech in the early days of that industry. His first job out of college was as a recruiter, and he felt that pain of I love the problem. And everyone at our organization to a T, it's something that we screened for in our hiring process, is really excited about solving the hiring problem. Which is getting people the right opportunity as fast as humanly possible.And that experience kind of started it, you know, it is what bubbled this up. And there's so much wasted space when it comes to the recruiting process. So much time spent looking up email addresses and a dozen tools. And you know, spending all your time on LinkedIn, crafting the perfect email, you know, having the same 15 minute conversation over and over again, only to find out that the candidate, actually moved two years ago and they're not really, you know, they're not open to working in your location, all this kind of running in place.And you're never sure when you're a human recruiter connecting with a candidate, if this is the right fit. And as a candidate, you're not sure, like is it worth my time to even connect with this recruiter? And you have this kind of core problem in place, that we wanted to take that deep tech and automation approach to, which was, we want to clear out all of the road recruiting tasks that get in the way of humans coming together. So, when you say human intervention, our goal is to have as little human intervention in the bot, the chat experience itself. So, you know, in terms of what we do, our platform helps automate. And for an enterprise company it helps automate three core functions. Sourcing. So identifying a candidate for a role, engaging them in an informational interview. Getting them excited about the opportunity, a few basic qualifying questions, and if they're a fit, bringing them into the hiring process. Screening, so somebody applies to a job. They go through a first round, deep dive interview with our bot, all kinds of written texts.And the last is coordination. So scheduling, messaging, you know, don't forget your interview is tomorrow at 1:00 PM that kind of work. Our goal is to do all that. So recruiters can come in and see, okay, this candidate is excited, they check off all the boxes. Here's the AI recommendation that is leading to me to believe they're a fit. And I'm sure that this candidate is worth my time. Now let me as the recruiter, build a relationship, guide them to the hiring process and, you know, help get them across the finish line. We do believe that ultimately recruiting is still always going to boil down to a human decision making process. On the other side of the equation, we have a candidate facing a bot. So Wendy works at the enterprise and Wade, we put out into the world as kind of an AI career guide, and you chat with Wade about what you've done in the past, what you'd like to do there, and personality tests. So you can get a real sense of who you like to work with, how you like to work, why you work?Is it a matter of, I just want to grow my career in whatever way possible. I want to maximize my salary because I want to be able to take... Max: Wait, wait… Is this Wendy or Wade?Dave: This is Wade. Max: I would actually open up more to a Wendy than I would to Wade but fine. Dave: So this is one of the things. And, I'm going to ask you a question, which I hope is not too uncouth because, you know, I'm on your show. One of the things that we saw from the beginning, which we were not ready for was. There's something about when you know you're chatting with an AI personality, and I know for you and for us, that's key to the experience. Is letting people know, hey, this is not an immediate personality.There is a level of trust, people don't feel judged. And not everyone wants to open up to it necessarily, but we had in our early days, we had candidates sharing stories that recruiters, you know, that have been doing it for 20 years had never heard. People surviving, you know, terrorist attacks, people going into depth about a personal tragedy that they had overcome, and how it related to the job that they were applying for. And these really deeply personal stories. And when we would conduct, you know, surveys and user interviews afterwards, there's this theme of, you know, I wasn't sure about this, but once I started talking, I realized, you know what? I can just tell my story. And I can get it out of the way, and there's no judgment.And, you know, work is such a personal, specific context. Right? And I would love to hear from your side of the table, like what do you see when people are interacting with Talkpush? Like, how do they feel about it? Max: Well, first, to your points, I think it's a good medium for getting stuff out that would be sensitive. So, an exit interview would be a good medium to use chatbots because, you know, you're talking to an AI. And so you can say things as they are a little bit more, perhaps than if you're talking to HR. Because HR can pull back your salary, but the AI is not gonna hold back, hopefully.And on the matter of people opening up. We do, you know, very large volumes and most of it is you organizing, and sourcing, and screening, and coordinating. But really, we try to keep the sourcing bids, which is like asking questions directly to the job as lean as possible.And then screening is also quite lean and this is the bulk of the volume. And we collect answers that are text, but also audio and video. So a video is the chance for people to express their creativity and we see some nice things there, of course. And on text it's usually a little bit faster, because people are on their mobile phones and they're not going to go on forever.So yeah, that's how I would describe it, but there are different pools of population because we work in eight or ten countries that have different reactions. So in some markets, the people are more warm and they try to convince the bots to, you know, treat them nice and put them at the top of the list. Then there's more flowery language. Dave: Yeah. I'll never forget. The first time we had, you know, Wendy the chat bot personality that is doing the interviewing basically, “she's the recruiter”. And, we had somebody go through an interview and at the end, you know, we have a little wave emoji and Wendy says, you know like, thank you so much the hiring, you know, the human hiring team will get back to you. Something like that, something from the early days, whatever it said. And people were responding, Thanks, Wendy. Hope you have a great day! And people know Wendy is a robot. We had like robot jokes in some of the early chats, like people knew. But you know, there's that notion of, well if I'm going to chat with it, I'm going to treat it like a, you know, like it's a thing, like I'm going to call it by its name. It's Wendy!Max: We got the same thing. I mean, it got to the point of like, Oh I really hope that you're going to get back to me sooner because I really need this job because blah, blah, blah my daughter needs a surgery something like this.Dave: Oh my goodness. Yeah...Max: At the end of the application process. Which, you know, I mean it makes my heart bleed, of course, but the bot doesn't have a heart! Dave: Sorry. There's nothing in our evaluation algorithm about, you know…Max: Additional circumstances. Dave: Yeah.Max: All right. Well, let's switch gears a little bit, and maybe it sounds like we should have a separate podcast where we put our bot people with your bot people and sharp out stories. That would be fun. It would be for a different kind of audience, my audience are mostly TA professionals, and they could get a little bit bored. So, one thing that... We kind of started at the same time, right? So when did you launch a Wade and Wendy? Dave: Wade and Wendy started in, you know, like on the couch, like a dollar and a dream idea in 2015. And we've been building ever since. Max: Yeah. So around the same time, I may be a few months older, but we only did our first text bot in 2016. After our initial run was doing IVR voice collection over the phone. Dave: Awesome. Max: And sometimes people ask me, are you still a startup? And I don't know what to tell them because, yeah, the company is more mature five years in, but people want to work in a startup because it's cool and exciting. How do we keep it cool and exciting by, you know five years in, when we have not yet totally taken over the world? Certainly our numbers are very high and, you know, we have purpose around that, but yeah, what are your thoughts on how to keep it fresh? And I'm also curious, you know, to extend a little bit the conversation, on the retention number, which is too high. Dave: Oh, interesting. Max: Because I think like the company from 5 years ago did not need the same people as it does now.Dave: Yep. So that's... What a question! I'll work backwards. I'll enter that first because I think that will help inform sort of, how do you keep it fresh? You know, I think. I completely agree with your point, which is that, you know, at every stage of a company you need different types of personality.The reality on the ground was really different. When we were tackling an incredibly difficult idea in an immature tech space and market, you know, in 2015, 2016, really up until probably like early 2019. It was when we would talk to prospective clients, we had to explain what a chatbot was, what AI was, why HR was going to benefit from AI and what that even meant. When it came to the problems that we were solving and just the ability to manage a chat conversation and what that took. And understanding from a design and conversation perspective, through the hard tech of, you know, how do you build for the future with this? It was so much open field, just an empty meadow with grass in every direction. And we had to walk forward. Right? And that is not for everybody, that level of uncertainty of rapid rate of change, of you know, chaos to a degree because I'll never forget when we went live with the first customer, because you know I'd been on a zero to one startup journey before, so I had a distinct memory then of what happened and how disruptive and special having a client like was to, you know, an organization that was, you know, under the hood, trying to solve these deep tech problems.Certainly we had user testing all the time, but it's so different when you're actually live. So you know, the person that is engaged and excited, with that chaos, and certainly we do have a chunk of our core team that has been with us from those early days, you know, when you get to a level of, okay this is a thing, and there's still so much green grass and there's still so much to do, but there is a clear pathway and the people that we have now, you know, there are people that I think if they had joined the organization four or five years ago, it would have been miserable. You know, being the fifth person on a team, trying to solve this as a really different lived experience than, you know, being an employee 12 or 15 or 20 or whatever it is. And that changes as you go.Max: Some people would be addicted to startup after startup after startup. And you see those resumes where people spend 6 to 12 months and, you know, you're thinking, okay either this person has serious ADD and is not reliable or perhaps, that's just the way gear. They just have to go at the earliest stage and just keep doing that over and over again. Dave: I call it. I have this notion, that we talk about a lot, which is startup time. And the earlier you are at a startup, both in terms of company size and like development life cycle, if it's a tech startup. Those early days, every month, you should count as six months!So, you know, six months at an early stage startup, when it's five people, feels like three years of sort of life experience. And as the company grows, as things become more predictable, that starts to flatten out. We're like, okay, five years at, you know, a late stage tech company is five years. But if you're part of that first year, there's so much emotion and complexity and raw hours that go into those early days that it's almost as if you're operating on a different calendar.And certainly there are people, you know, that were on our journey for six months, you know, we have a couple of those, especially some junior folks that were interns and things like that. And you know, to this day we have relationships as if we've worked together for a decade, just because those six months really forged that time. And it was a really wonderful kind of moment for all of us. Max: So, your alumni, your best alumni, they stay in the startup world for the most part? They moved on to their own thing? Dave: It depends. And we've watched people go to a giant company and then realize like, you've been at it for long enough where a couple of people now in the second thing afterwards, worked for, you know, a fortune 50 company for a couple of years, and we're like, no I missed that! So most went on to start ups, in some capacity, but a handful went to the big places where everybody else is.Max: Yeah it paid the bill!Dave: Yeah, what motivates you is different for everybody. And if it's an awesome paycheck, which you can really get at a giant company, then, you know, by all means go after it. Max: I think so, right? I was saying conversational designers will find jobs and you can go work for Microsoft anytime, and probably get something there. Well, other tips, that I can appropriate, on how to keep the excitement strong? Especially in these troubled times where we cannot see each other in person? Dave: So this is the advice that I got. Hopefully you can use it. Both you Max and you felt listener at home, or wherever you're listening to this. You know, when one of the things that... The entire employee life cycle is tied together. Right? So from the first time you hear about a company that you might work for in the recruiting process to, you know, 20 years down the line, when you're an AVP and just continuing to kind of move up the ranks, whatever it might be.But the best organizations that I've seen, really do illuminate their entire process with that organization's mission. Right? And, you know, I think about, you know, companies where I've gotten to see this up close are organizations like, you know... And I'm not... Some of these are clients, some of these are just companies where I've gotten the chance to talk to leaders and hear what they have to say. But I think about companies like PepsiCo or Comcast that have a real kind of message infused in what being an employee there means. And what the goals of that organization mean to kind of the broader world. Max: wait a minute! PepsiCo, is the mission to sell more sugar? Dave: So it's, it's fascinating. PepsiCo has a wide range, and I have no affiliation with PepsiCo. So, I've just heard people at PepsiCo speak about their culture. So PepsiCo's internal mission is really oriented around diversity and personal development. So yes, they are selling corn chips and sugary drinks, and, a whole bunch of other things, which is, you know these are the complexities in the modern world, but internally in terms of their company’s culture and what they do. They are deeply engaged with bringing their workforce into the community with service projects. They are one of the most diverse, leadership organizations. The fact that I even know this stuff just tells you see how, and again, I have no connection to PepsiCo whatsoever.The way they communicate that brand, the way it filters out throughout the organization keeps people, you know, not just engaged and motivated in a kind of transactional way, but in a deep way, people are committed to the development of the organization. Now selling sugary drinks isn't necessarily what drives me every day, you know, but for us, we're lucky and I'm sure you feel the same way. We're oriented towards this really powerful problem. Right? Every day I get to come to work and I get to work on. Chipping away at the massive unemployment crisis that is affecting, you know, hundreds of millions of people across the globe.I get to work on issues of representation and diversity by trying to remove bias in the hiring process. I mean, if your work, if you're a recruiter, if you're a TA person and you're thinking about your team. Your team is on the front lines of some of the most important decision making that human beings make. where do they choose to work. Where they choose to spend their time. Max: It affects society.Dave: It's such an important thing. And, you know we do a lot to remember that. And to talk about that, we have an internal mantra, that we call 60 to 6, which is, today the average job search in America, and it's different the world over, but the majority of our team is based in the US. So this is the number we use.The average job search takes 60 days. So when you're looking for work, whether you're unemployed or you've decided it's time for a change, the average job search takes 60 days. We want to create a world where it takes 6. We want to make hiring 10 times faster, where you're not spending all your time searching and trying to eliminate the right and wrong job. We want the right job to come to you, and you are able to just opt in. For the recruiter, they don't have to spend all this time searching for candidates and putting people to the process. You just get the right candidate, you know they're the right candidate because you have all this data to suggest that it's the right candidate, and how it maps on to their future work at your organization. This notion of 60 to 6 and removing, you know, 54 days of not knowing how you're going to pay your bills, not knowing what you're going to be doing with yourself, just going crazy, sitting by yourself, like that is so powerful and illuminating. And, you know, I think that really helps keep things fresh. And for a startup, this is a little more specific to startup context, you keep hitting milestones along the way, right? You're never done. It's never like, okay, this is over. It's like we got this contract, or we're able to release this functionality, or this thing that we've been talking about for five years, since this was an idea on the couch, is now about to go live because of the work of dozens of people across the globe.That is so cool. and when you get to celebrate those kinds of victories, you know, it's just a reminder of why you get up and do all the unglamorous things that being at a startup requires. Cause it's not, I'm probably making it sound all, you know, sunshine and lollipops, but you know, it's a lot. And there's a lot of work that a big team in money can solve that you have to be scrappy and you have to find your clever way around it. And just one at a time. Max: Yeah. I think we're lucky or maybe not lucky. We picked the industry we chose to go after. And that was one of the reasons I would personally not be motivated to sell sugary drinks. But, you know, I'm gonna use what you said about PepsiCo and go chase some sponsorship money from Mountain Dew for this podcast. Dave: Yeah. A really extreme podcast!Max: Yeah. Great. Well, we could go on all day on these topics, and maybe we'll talk again, and maybe we'll have our bot people have a separate chat, but it was a real pleasure, a real treat having you on the show. Dave, thank you so much for sharing and, all the best to you and your 60 to 6 mission! I'll see if I can tweak it and personalize it for my team.Dave: I would love that. Look, this is a, you know, one of the things that we talk a lot about, is that this is a community, right? And, you know, if you're solving these problems, these problems are bigger than any group, any company, things like that. And it's always exciting to talk to other people who care about these issues.So thank you so much for having me. I am excited to get to talk with you about this in this setting. And yeah, hopefully people are ready to chat with a bot about work now.Max: All right. Awesome. Thanks Dave. Dave: Thanks Max. Max: I had such a great time interviewing Dave Mekelburg Chief of staff.Head of people at a Wade and Wendy. It's often an experience running a startup, which is very competitive, where you're trying to grab the headlines and grab market share from your competition. And it's so refreshing and so nice to meet the competition. And remember that you are working on problems that are much bigger than your own. And much bigger than your own company. And then we had so much to learn from each other. So thanks Dave for participating. I hope you enjoyed our conversation, and I hope it didn't get too geeky for you, that you'll sign up for more on the recruitment hackers podcast.
24 minutes | 3 months ago
Hiring in STEM: Talent with Potential - PaR Systems’ Head of TA, Zac Engler
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platforms. Max: Hello, and welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers podcast. I'm your host Max Armbruster. And today I'm welcoming Zac Engler, who is the head of talent acquisition for a company called PaR Systems, which he'll tell us all about. Zac, welcome to the show. Zac: Hey Max, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.Max: It's a pleasure. When I saw that you moved into this new company I thought that was a real good match between the kind of recruiter that you are, a tinker, somebody who likes to play with tours and the kind of business that PaR System does. But for those who don't know you, perhaps, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you come from? How did you get into recruitment? and then we'll talk about your business next.Zac: Yeah. So, thank you. I started off with a career in more of an HR generalist capacity at Target headquarters. Transitioned over through to, more of a retail leadership slash talent development and recruitment person while in my time at Apple. And that's really where I got my taste of full-on recruiting. And from there I just realized that it needed to be a hundred percent of my job. I landed an opportunity at Amplifon, the world's largest provider of hearing care solutions, and I oversaw the build-out of their North American talent acquisition team. And from there, you know, was really on a great pace in terms of exploring new technologies and bringing new capabilities to recruitment.When PaR Systems came along with really the dream job for me, as you said, I'm a tinkerer. I love all things nerdy when it comes to space flight. When it comes to nuclear reactors, when it comes to nuclear energy, when it comes to robotics and automation, and PaR does all of those things. So it just was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities that I got to capitalize on, and they're slated from some tremendous growth over the next few years. So they brought me on as a head of talent acquisition to really help grow out that capability and scale the team. Max: I believe this company has a few hundred people today. Zac: Yeah, we have 450 people. We have locations here in Minnesota, in the Minneapolis area. We have another large location in Brunswick, Georgia, and then we have satellite offices around the world. Some of the locations are in the United Kingdom, South Africa, France, Japan, but overall, the biggest locations are Minnesota. Max: Minnesota and Georgia. Okay. And PaR Systems, hires a lot of engineers then, and finds what it's looking for in Minnesota. Zac: Yeah. 75% of our staff is either engineers or highly technical positions, a lot of the projects and products that we design and build are one of a kind or first of a kind solutions. The robotic crane system currently tearing apart Chernobyl is one example of something that had never been done before. That we designed and built. But yeah, as far as the engineering talent that we're looking for, a lot of that is based here in Minnesota, whether it's applications engineers, controls engineers, systems engineers, mechanical engineers, electronics engineers, you know, we are looking for them all And so getting into those work streams has been a unique challenge for me as well. Max: Yeah. I think you're the man for the job but, these roles seem like perhaps you would find them in the sort of fundamental research university sector, find these kinds of profiles, because if you said it's first of a kind, you're not going to find people who have, you know, nuclear crane on their resume much. I'm sorry if I'm misquoting your example. Is your funnel focused on more general traits? And then, you know, you need a solid engineering background and then general traits of the tinker? Or you know, can you learn on the job kind of thing?Zac: Yes, our team full heartedly believes in, in training and development and mentorship. A lot of the people that come into our organization in a junior position are given a mentor almost immediately, and are set on a path for development. And one of the nice things about joining the PaR team is that, you know, if you would go join a larger organization, you might be assigned as an engineer to work on a piece of the widget that's a bigger part of the project for the next two years. Whereas at PaR, you get assigned projects almost immediately that you get to own, you're giving guidance and support as you work through those projects. But you can almost think of us like McKinsey or Deloitte in a way where we're not the company always necessarily turning out the product. We're the ones helping other companies design, then build the things that will go out and make their products. So it's really fun to be at that very leading edge of the production line.Max: I see. And working on the production line, so from design to production and then figuring out how to optimize there. Zac: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Max: Cool. So as part of their recruitment process for you, when you were being considered for this job, did they ask you to show the toys you've been building? I remember you were one of the first people to experiment with chatbots for the world of recruitments, was this part of the selection process?Zac: I think it helped my case. But yeah, in the 10 interviews I went through, it was definitely a great exposure to the organization to learn all the different quadrants that we work within, whether it's material handling, crane and nuclear work, whether it's military, marine. Whether it's aerospace and aeronautics or alive sciences automation, those four areas. I got a chance to work with those folks and share my story of how we streamlined candidate workflow through automation to allow us to actually connect with the person behind the resume, and get to the best candidates more quickly, if we're on the sourcing side of the candidate funnel. So there was definitely a lot of hope and positivity around that aspect of the work that I'd done in the past. Max: Well in North America, in 2020 people are complaining about the fact that in spite of the highest unemployment rates in the history of the country, practically, it's still hard to find people. It's still hard to find enough talent to go work. And even entry-level jobs like retail and call centers. In your space, I suppose the impact has been lesser, both for the talent and the employer, because engineering keeps on engineering. There hasn't been a massive impact. So two part question, first, hoping my assumptions are correct. And secondly, what can you do to expand your town pool if it is, you know, the ongoing hustle that it has been to find enough engineers? Zac: Yeah, for sure. So I think your assumptions are spot on. You know, with the baby boomer generation moving in towards that retirement age. You know, we have 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day for the next nine years here in the US, and as they vacate these skilled positions, they're leading openings that we won't necessarily have the talent to backfill. And I think one of the unique things that we're challenged with at PaR, is figuring out what are some of those pathways from skilled trade to STEM, right?How can we bring in people who maybe don't have a four year degree in an area, but have an associates degree. And train them up, and train them into those other types of roles and positions within the organization. And this doesn't have to be just engineering. This could be, in my prior world of hearing care, in pharmaceuticals and nursing, for example, right?Zac: There's a lot of entry points to those other types of businesses where you can enter in, as a pharmacy tech, as a nursing assistant. And go through schooling and get support as you then train yourself up to those higher levels within those businesses. It's getting those tracks in place and making that easier for companies to do, that I think will definitely be helpful.There's a local organization here called Make It MSP or Greater MSP that is focused on drawing talent to the Minneapolis and Minnesota region, and some of the work that they're doing is focused on just that. How do we create more visibility and opportunity for a diverse candidate set that did not always have the privilege of going to university, for example?Max: Yeah. And so explain to me how that imaginary perfect candidate would look like? Are we talking about a technician who was doing mechanical repair work on, I don't know, air conditioning units? Because he needs to, you know, put food on the table, feed his family, his or her.Although I have never met a female air conditioning technician, I'm sure there are plenty of them. And, so I had a mental picture. So this person would have the intellectual curiosity and the ambition to move into the engineering space. And then start to receive more fundamental training into these, let's say, into the nuclear field, does that kind of transition can happen?Zac: In certain instances. Absolutely. And you know, I think women are now a bigger part of the collegiate population in general, in the United States anyway. So, targeting, empowering and creating visibility to these types of opportunities, I think it's one area that businesses in STEM fields would benefit from. Right? Because a lot of times we're just running into this situation of, It's not top of mind for students, whether it's high school or college students, they don't know that they can become a shop floor technician with only a two year degree, that pays $50,000 a year, right out of school. They don't know that they could become a pharmacist or tech or a hearing care professional right out of school, with minimal training and certification and so creating that type of awareness for students. I think it is a cultural shift as well for us to get through it, because I think that the baby boomers did a great job of, you know, propagating college and saying college college college. Whatever you do. Just go to college. It doesn't matter. Just go! Max: They got away from the real work. Zac: Right. And we shifted and pivoted from college being the emphasis, to now I think we need to just figure out where are the priorities for economic success and how do we align that with people's passions and desires?Max: No, I totally get that. Now that we've put the blame on the boomers, I totally get it. Zac and I are both. I believe gen X. Zac: Not at all. Max: No?Zac: I'm an elder millennial, we'll say. Max: Okay. So, elder millennials and young fresh gen X-ers like myself. There's a very high chance that we were raised in a family where our parents did not work in industrial work, right? Because, our parents' generation, they're the ones who... Well the industrial work turned South for most of Western economies. And so, I guess, yeah, you've to start from scratch to show a new generation of people, that there is this kind of work available.Zac: Exactly. I think organizations can also, you know, work harder to create that visibility for those opportunities. And even if you just look at some of the technology that's in place that a lot of major corporations, you know, the ATS can either be a great tool for companies to use, or it could be the bane of everybody's hiring experience, right?Like there's still sadly, so many companies. That just let the ATS be this never-ending pool of people applying and getting responses. There's also some really great examples of companies diving in and creating those personal connections. Those career networks and giving people, support mechanisms after they're rejected, like what a concept that we would, even though we're saying no to you, we would help you out and give you thoughts and advice and areas to investigate that might be better aligned with your skillset.Max: Yeah. I think the ATS stronghold is also because in North America in particular, there's a legal concern of compliance for EEO, OFCCP, FCRA guidelines. And, for a tinkerer like yourself, maybe I can ask you, is there a way to be compliance with these guidelines without using the ATS? Are our town’s acquisition people making a big thing out of something that doesn't need to be?Zac: I think that the ATS definitely has its place in the recruitment process and in the talent acquisition process. I don't know that we're able to get past that, per se, but it's like anything, how you use it should be the focus of every business, and using it just like we're focusing on diversity and inclusion, just like we're focusing on championing women leadership capabilities. We should be focused on creating a highly engaged, personal process for every candidate. Max: Yeah, I feel like you're dodging the question a little bit. The question I'm trying to get at is, can we do compliance without asking the candidates to go through the ATS? And I think the answer is yes, but I'm happy to hear your opinion on this topic. If you think I'm wrong. Zac: If we're able to get to the information we need to know to be compliant, then my answer would be yes. Maybe there is a chat tool out there that could help people get to that spot within the process to streamline that candidate flow. The thing I would caution there is just, are you still gonna ask the same question that you would, when people are clicking through the 15 Taleo steps, right? Only just now, they're having to do it on SMS with their thumbs. Not to throw them under the bus, but they're an easy target. Max: Right. Yeah, the question it's still gotta be there, if I understand your comments on the chat, you obviously know which angle I'm coming from. I am not an advocate for chats interface all the time, for everybody. And if we're talking about a long checklist of tick marks you have to fill in, I do think that an actual forum UI is more appropriate than a chat. But I also think it's a shame. If what you're trying to build is trust, if you're trying to build engagements to get all of this compliance and all these checklists done at the front of the funnel. Might dilute your message. And you might miss out on some good candidates. You can take them from cold to lukewarm or very warm before you have to go through the compliance stuff.Zac: Yeah. I think that's where automation can definitely step in. How are you finding the best fit for your organization quickly? And how are you teaming that person up with another person as quickly as possible? Because I am a little bias that a recruiter who's looking at a job holistically from start to finish, will be a great, what I like to call a talent liaison, for the company and for that candidate, so that you can build trust with them throughout the recruitment process, so that you can have a true rapport and understanding of...Even if this particular role doesn't work out, there may be other opportunities that align in the future. and that person will be more likely to participate as well because they had a confidant at the organization teamed up with them, rather than a siloed experience where they got passed off from person to person, or had they continuously apply through this, you know, stale old process, to not get any results or traction with their application, even though they might be a huge promoter of the brand. Max: And, when somebody changes jobs and moves into a new company like yourself, like you did a few, a couple of months ago, it's usually an opportunity for the new company to like pick their brains and get the best ideas from, from the new, the new person. What are some of the early initiatives that you've been able to implement coming into the new role that you can share with us?Zac: Yeah, one of the first areas we're tackling is our job posts, actually. To this point, we are just copy pasting job descriptions onto our careers page, and as you may have heard me say in the past, too many bullets kill people. So let's say, if people aren't going to read the full thing or you're only going to pick out a couple bullets that are relevant and then apply anyways, that doesn't help anybody in the process. Right? It doesn't help the company or the candidate. So we're trying to, pilot and pivot to a performance-based job posting. Methodology, which will tell a story about the role. It'll give you a sense of what your first 90 days or first year are going to look like. It'll also tell you what you're going to get out of joining our organization and not just say like, you will do this for us, but here's what you'll get out of that experience.And, it's our goal to use that as a lever, to set us apart from the competition. Looking at 30 or so different competitors that we have in our industry. Maybe one or two of them is taking a similar approach. If that. But it'll also help us increase our diversity inclusion efforts as well. Because as you know, some job descriptions can be inherently biased and that can shy people away from the application process.Max: All right. And helping get a visual around that. We're talking about, you said, I guess less bullet points and more of a journey. So does it look like a slide deck where you move through a few images of this is what your job would look like. This is what you'd be doing. Is it like a slide deck or am I being a management consulting nerd?Zac: No, no, no. You're just fast forwarding from what I want to implement in the next six months. But, it starts off with storytelling and really, if you check out Lou Adler, he's got some great... He's really been the pioneer in this space, that I've molded our approach off, both at Amplifon and now here at PaR.So it really is that storytelling approach to encourage people to self select out. Once they start reading and understanding that this isn't a fit for them, and to really accelerate the interest of somebody who it is a fit for. And then yeah, down the road, having those more interactive and engaging job posts, video job posts or video advertisements around virtual job descriptions is on my roadmap for next year.Max: Well, one thing that, sourcing teams, challenge, you know, are challenged with. Is “Oh, that sounds great”, you know, what you just described, but we don't have enough leads. So we don't have time to build more information and more screens you have to go through in order to get to the applicant stage.So I was thinking. You know, the salvation may come from changing the main metric from cost per lead or number of leads to a more complex metric where you would only measure a lead if it's qualified, it's interested, it's shown where the first 90 days are on the job, and after all of that, it says yes. Have you had to change a little bit the way you track and you measure effectiveness and TA, or is that part of the plan?Zac: That'll be a part of the plan. So we're on month two and establishing a core set of KPIs and metrics that will be happening here as well. And I think having that ability to capture the candidate where they live is an ideal place for us in the future. So that somebody, browsing Facebook, browsing, LinkedIn, or just browsing the web. And they come across an ad from us, and they're engaged in our brand either via a chat system, or via an interactive job posting that is more likely to draw their attention than just the standard boiler plate. Right? Max: Well, I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out of Zach Angler’s school of talent acquisition and tinkering. Congrats on the new role. And thank you for joining me on the podcast and sharing your insights with our viewers. Where can people get a hold of you?Zac: Absolutely Max, thanks for having me on. If people want to learn more, they can visit, zacengler.com for a little bit more about myself. Some of the radical ideas I have around AI, as well as the children's books that I've been working on. And people could visit par.com to learn more about our organization. Max: Children book as well? Did I hear that right? Zac: Yes. Yes. there is a children's book I've been working on for the last decade. If you have little ones, check it out, it'll bring a smile to hopefully anybody from Age 9 to 92. Max: You'd been working on it for a decade. Wow. Zac: Yeah. It's about a family of dung beetles. Max: Dung beetles. Okay. Well zacengler.com we'll go check it out. Thanks again for being on the show.Zac: Absolutely. Max. Thank you. Max: That was Zac Engler from PaR Systems, who I've always known to be a tinkerer and an insatiable mind. Very curious. and isn't it great to see him find a company where he gets to work in robotics. And nuclear technology and other, I think there are very few areas, functional areas, like talent acquisition that allow for people to go into these fields and an opportunity to learn about the areas that they're passionate about, without having to have formal training in this domain. So, I'm sure Zac will make the most of it and be an inspiration for us to always look for the company that aligns most with our values. Hope you enjoyed this interview and that, you'll come back for more at the recruitment hackers podcast. Thank you.
31 minutes | 3 months ago
Automation and AI to Improve Candidate Experience for Executive Hiring - Trent Cotton, Director or TA, BBVA
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platform. Max: Hello, everybody. Welcome to the record hackers podcast. This is Max and I'm today with Mr. Trent Cotton, director of talent acquisition at BBVA dialing in from Atlanta. Hi, Trent. Welcome to the show. Trent: Hi, Max, glad to be here. Max: Pleasure to have you. So, we were discussing with Trent, some of the big changes that happened in 2020. And we'll talk a little bit about BBVA’s new policy on diversity and talk a little bit about AI and the recruiting sprints that you're running for your team. I think. There's a lot to learn for our audience there. But before we get into all of that, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today?Trent: Sure, sure. I converted to the dark side of HR in 2004. I spent the first part of my career working through college as a banker, and in 2004 my daughter was two and a half, almost three years old. And, you know, I just got tired of lending. It was like, a loan, a loan, a loan.And, at the time I was managing four States for a mortgage broker and had, I think, 48 people that I was managing. And I said, you know what, I'm going to make a pivot. And took a contracting job with the bank, working as a recruiter and was trained by six, I'm using air quotes, recruiters. But they were technically like HR people that just did recruiting.And, I think that their sole purpose for six months was to convince me that I would not like recruiting. I wouldn't be successful, and they almost got to my head. But the difference between me and them is that I could sit with an executive, a banking executive and talk about, you know, the size of the portfolio, yield spread, about the changes in the market, all that business stuff.And then also, because I used to manage, I knew where to go and find the people. So just like that, I just kind of progressed and it's been a fun ride. I've done a lot of banking recruiting. There's nothing in the bank that I haven't recruited for. I've done some tech recruiting for a tech firm, and did some healthcare recruiting, but now I manage a fantastic group of 28 people that keep me on my toes and keep me innovating. So, like I said, it's been a fun journey. Max: Yeah, recruitment it's kind of like where people end up, after sales hasn't worked out for some people, but there is a wonderful element of delivering someone, a career, a stepping stone, a next step. But in your case, you know, your timing was pretty good. Right? Getting out of mortgages in 2007. Trent: Oh gosh! It was providential, very. And you know, that was the other thing that I realized, that I loved sales and at the end of the day, that's all recruiting is. Just like a salesperson you need to have a pipeline, you need to manage a portfolio of talent, and you've got to be able to close a deal working with both your internal client and the candidate.So at the end of the day, we are salespeople. I just think a little bit more highly refined. And what we do it's harder, because it's not like I'm trying to sell you a TV or sell you a product. I'm selling you an opportunity. And there's a certain level of domains and intelligence that I think is paramount for somebody to be successful.But I agree with you, whenever I'm looking for people to add to the team, the first thing I look for is, do they have that sales mentality? And that portfolio management and development of a pipeline? And if they have all of that, I can teach them the rest. Max: Well, I'm a startup CEO of building talent acquisition software. And when people asked me: How do we innovate? My answer is maybe a little bit uninspiring, but it's like, we just look at what sales and marketing does, and we know that it's coming into recruitment in three, four years from now. So we start building it now and we’ll be alright. And continuing on your sales analogy, you know, you were saying, that recruitment is sales. Which I agree with.In the sales universe, the size of the deal that you make will affect the composition of your team and the marketing to sales mix. How much are you doing marketing? You're going to do more marketing with products that are a little bit cheaper. And you're going to do more sales, more hand holding when the product is a little bit more expensive.And so, if we apply that to recruitment, you know, the sort of white glove recruiting service would only work up until a certain level, and then for everything else you would have to have a different workflow, and a different sales to marketing mix. Does that apply for you at BBVA? Trent: It does. It does. So we've got the high volume on the branch side and then we've got the professional and executive, and even within the professional executive side, we've got kind of entry-level positions. So usually if I bring someone in, maybe they were a banker, and they want to get into recruiting or HR. I'll take them on and either have them work in retail, which is high volume, or kind of a higher volume on the professional and executive side. That way they can get used to all the things that as recruiters we've got to be aware of. The HR laws, what to do, what not to do, to build up a process. And then as they progress, and as they learn to source, and as they develop that acumen, to me, there is a different level for the level of search that I work on versus someone that's working on maybe a mid level. There's not a lot. I mean, at its core, it's the same, but how I have to go about it is a little bit trickier. Because most of the time, if you're trying to get an executive, there's a different type of wooing that you do than someone that's a middle executive, you know, to me it's just a different rapport. So, it's almost like, of course sales is not a good idea.Because I was trying to think of, how would you market it? But I do think that maybe core sales is kind of your run in the middle basic model. There's a client out there for it, and you need to market it to them, specifically to that audience. But if I'm selling Bentleys or something like that, I have a totally different target market. Totally different networking. And that's a different level of client, a different ego that I have to deal with versus someone that's just coming in and: Hey! I just need a car. It doesn't have to be new. You know, it doesn't have to have even powered windows. It just needs to crank and to get me where I need to go.So, it's all about knowing your audience. And I think at the core, that's what sales is all about. Knowing your audience and being able to find the right need for them at the right time. Max: You and I have a commercial brand. And so, if we ever start looking for a job, you and I Trent, I mean we're just going to use our sales experience. Right? We're going to start looking into our network and like finding the job that's right for us. At the level that you're describing, you know, these kinds of bank executives, I would assume that they would also be able to like, find their own jobs to a certain degree. Do you find that to be the case or, you still need to do a lot of hunting?Trent: I still need to do a lot of hunting. They can go and find their own job if they want to, because it's a very tight knit network at the top. The difference is that sometimes they're so busy or they're so entrenched with their own company, that my job is just to get them to lift their head up and say, okay, is there something else that you might want to do?Or are there competencies that you're doing in your current job that could be transferred over into this job that you never even knew existed? Or an area that you never even thought about exploring? So, a lot of mine is selling them on the opportunity. And then once I sell them, then I've got to evaluate them and make sure that they qualify. Where I think it's a little bit on the flip side, on the entry level, you don't necessarily have to sell them on the job. It's making sure that they meet the qualifications, that they are a good cultural fit, and that it's the right time for them to make a move. And then you sell them on the brand. So it's a different sales process in my opinion, or at least that is what I've seen.Max: Well, I'm thinking you might start something in there. I had a career shift and they may not end up working for you, but they may still take you up on your advice, if you do it well. That could be like a side metric. What you could start tracking is: How many of those people we’re having conversations with we’ve managed to influence their career?I went off track but, you were saying before we got started. You were talking about the AI and ML, transformation initiatives that you're working on. In my company, we apply AI mostly to engage with candidates at the front of the funnel and answer their question and direct them to the right opportunity. And then pre-screen them. In your world of managers and above, how can you apply AI there? Trent: That's interesting. because you know, you and I kind of geeked out a little bit about AI and ML prior to talking and the first bias. If we were talking about this 18 months ago and I brought AI and ML up to maybe senior management and said: Hey! this is something I want to do.I would have to get over the first hurdle of explaining what it was, and explaining the efficiencies. So fast forwarding to today, they understand the efficiencies, but the questions you just asked is the first hurdle that I have to jump because they go, well, what if a senior executive applies to a role and they get this AI thing?You know, that's not the kind of experience that we want for them. And I mean, it all depends on the product. I've seen some products that are incredible, you know, whenever you interact with them, you actually forget that you're dealing with an AI. You know? So dealing, I guess I struggle because most of the time that there is... Once you get to a certain level, having people applying to that. Yeah, it's very rare and I guess maybe I'm so cynical that whenever they do apply, I'm going, okay, what are you running from? You know, I kind of like the thrill of the chase, but most of the time we're going out and bringing that talent in. And we can actually introduce them and say: Hey, there's going to be an AI that's going to ask you some followup questions. It can also answer any of the frequently asked questions about benefits, you know, any kind of onboarding stuff. So it gives them an extra layer of that white glove treatment that's available 24/7.Max: I like that. Yeah. It's easy to think that just because somebody has got 10 or 15 years of experience, that they have all the answers, but they've just probably got as many questions as the juniors. And they, you know, they may be even.. The juniors would ask the question because you know, they don't know. And vice versa where somebody a little more experienced might be a little bit embarrassed to ask. But the questions are just as important. So the AI then would service the same. You know, primarily a candidate experience and engagement layer, to prepare them for the possibility of working at your company.Trent: Yes, definitely because it's still part of the branding experience. And that's the thing that's been so impressive to me, doing some demos with AI assistants. Just trying to kind of explore over the next 12 to 24 months: How can we as an organization implement this, to increase the efficiency, but also enhance that candidate experience?And I think that whenever people are talking about AI and trying to sell it internally, or even whenever the companies come out to me, and want to do a demo. You know, I always say, you know, do you ever bring up the fact that this is a fantastic candidate experience? You're missing a golden opportunity if you're not, because that's a huge selling point for me.In my mind, I own the candidate experience for everyone who applies with my firm. If I have an AI out there, that's constantly showing them videos, you know, messages, and maybe they started the application process and they stopped because they need to go cook dinner or something like that. And that assistant goes and continues to engage them. That in my mind is a fantastic experience for the candidate, but it also creates so much efficiency for my team. Because I cannot wait for the day that the 20 people on my team come in and they have a day that's been booked for them while they were asleep or enjoying their family. The job just posted, that AI goes in and parses out the necessary information sources internally, and externally evaluates them. Once they're ranked, you know, we've set up a minimum limit so that anybody that makes 85 and above, AI goes ahead and books them on my calendar. I mean, how cool would it be?You know, to think that, 10 years ago, this was just like farfetched, but we're in the grass of being able to have recruiters come in and have seven or eight qualified. I mean, not just qualified candidates booked, but also to be able to have a 360 view outside of the resume. I mean, it's just absolutely intoxicatingly exciting.Max: I wasn't a recruiter like you in 2005. And I don't know what attracted you to... Trent: We didn't have Google! When I arrived here we didn't have google! Yeah, I heard some of my new team members. They were like, this googling stuff is so hard! I was like, Oh good God. I had a phone book. I remember getting new jobs, because we had a large footprint, and so part of my intake was asking them to send me a phone book. So that way I could cold call some of the realtors to get mortgage bankers, or some of the banks, or whatever. And you know, now you've got all kinds of things that provide all kinds of contact. I mean, it's sitting right there and it's just mind boggling to me, the transformation that has been done in 10 - 15 years. Max: Yeah. Yeah. And then that adrenaline and dopamine hit that you used to get from finding a profile that might be a good fit. But, I do think that that's going to phase out over the years because sourcing will be more and more automated and that dopamine hit will have to come from a later point in the process, which will be, yeah, the candidate expresses an interest, says, yeah, I'm going to take the offer. I don't know. It'll come just a little bit further probably, because the volumes are just constantly increasing. The easy access of data is increasing. And I imagine that your bank has also experienced an increase in applicants over the last few months. You're tracking that?Trent: It's been rather steady. Believe it or not. You know, in the U.S the impact of Coronavirus has been… It depends on the market. You know, we have some markets that... they aren't like Corona doesn't even exist, it's business as usual. And then we have others that were hotspots. Max: And Georgia was a little bit like that. Trent: Yeah, Atlanta we got to shut down, I think three or four times under like an executive order. And I think it was a fun two weeks where the governor said the state's reopened and our mayor goes. Nah! And so there were like all kinds of means, but, you know, what is it? Our dad said I could go outside, and our mayor is female, but mama said no. The rest of Georgia was out traveling and the rest of us, you know, in Atlanta, we were just locked down.Max: How confusing! You know, mommy and daddy arguing. Trent: Oh yeah. So it was quite fun just to kind of sit back and watch, but we're starting to see candidate flow increase a little bit, but we did not really see a major impact in the amount of candidates. What we have seen as an impact is in some of the critical areas that we need to hire, the marketers became so incredibly competitive.In the banking world, from an economic standpoint, in the U.S, mortgage is hot right now! And I mean, an underwriter in the U.S, a mortgage underwriter could just about name their price. And if they're good, a bank will pay out and probably give them a bonus. And that's some of the compression that we're seeing in the U.S, not the applicant flow. We're really having to go out on the hunt, and we can find people who are qualified, but then we're competing in things that sometimes are... I mean, I've seen offers and I just go: What? They are offering what? You know, how is that bank even making money? So there's a little bit of a frenzy and some of the key competencies. Max: Yeah, I have certainly heard a number of sectors where the volumes have gone down, like in retail, and in healthcare, and where people don't want to come to a physical office for health concerns.Trent: Right. Max: And I think that there's also limited mobility because people are, you know, kind of looking for safety and security and so less likely to hop jobs right now, which may limit your ability to do your work. Right? Trent: Very, very. Max: Hoping it will get a little bit more rosy post-election.Trent: Yes, yes. We'll see after the election. And then I think we'll see it after the first of the year. But the thing for us is, you know, kind of how we do recruiting. Corona was a fantastic stress test for us. Because it was working. We had just rolled it out throughout the entire bank and then Corona came and it really forced our clients to rank in terms of priority, which jobs are most critical over the two week period.And so I guess that's why I stumbled a little bit about candidate flow and all of that, because how we view metrics are completely different because of how we recruit. So, whenever I'm on. You know, certainly whenever I'm talking to people in TA, you know, they go, what's your time to fill? And I'm like, I don't know. It's not, I mean, we measure it, but it's not, it's not the driving metric. And it's, especially if we're on video, I like to kind of watch their mind, it's almost like looking at a computer, you see the little time clock turning. It's like they're trying to process, wait, time to fill. You don't even look at it? No, we don't. We look at the priority roles and how many we close within the priority, or excuse me, within the sprint. What we found in, I think it was 2018. You know, I've been in recruiting since 2004, and it was one of the first times since I got into recruiting that I actually stopped. And I said, am I doing what I need to be doing? You know, is this really? Am I passionate about this anymore? You know, I was dealing, I was managing a smaller team at the time. I was dealing with the same customer comments. You're not getting enough candidates. Not enough qualified candidates. It has taken too long to fill. And then, you know, the recruiters are going, the managers aren't doing this. And I felt more like a daycare owner than I did, you know, a team lead for a recruiter. And about that time, our bank was going through an agile transformation. So I got to spend a week learning the Kanban, or Kanban depends on how you want to say it. Learning that process.Max: I don't speak Japanese.Trent: Yeah? haha.Max: So applying Kanban to recruiting, right? Sorry I interrupted.Trent: Applying Kanban to recruiting. So that was kind of our beta, but then I went through the agile methodology training for about a week and a half and listened to Jeff Sutherland's book on Scrum. And I was doing like a four or five hour drive and I was listening to the book and there were so many times I went, Holy shit. There it is. You know, that's what I've been looking for! And so as a group, we identified that there were four pitfalls in traditional recruiting. Everything's a priority, which means nothing's a priority, the lack of feedback, the over analysis, paralysis, FOMO, whatever you want to call it. Whatever the hiring managers have that makes them want to interview 25 people for, you know, an hourly job.We were also misaligned with our client, because there were so many times I'll sit down with the executive and go, we filled 48 jobs in two weeks. Or, you know, 48 jobs last month. And on average you only have 16 openings. Why are you complaining? Well, those weren't the most critical ones. Well, how do we know which was critical, which wasn't? So there was a lot of misalignment. And then two, we instituted WIP limits. So work in progress limits. And what that did is that it allowed us to be able to kind of keep that process going. So now whenever our team comes in, they've got a dashboard, they're open regs. Every two weeks we meet with them. We call them sprint owners, product owners, whatever, they can be the executive for a line of business or their designated.Max: But its not. A sprint owner is not going to be, someone from your team. It'll be the hiring manager, typically. Trent: It's the client, the client drives the priority.Max: Yeah. Makes sense.Trent: So, the four principles are feedback, is kinda like the gas in the car, it keeps the process going. WIP limits, keeps us focused. And then the business drives and the priority. And what we do is we, you know, I'll sit down and go: Hey, Max! Your entire department, you've got 20 openings. And we're going to go… The other thing that we instituted of course, was a sprint. It forces a lot of efficiency. So, Max, you've got 25 positions, you've got a hundred points or a hundred dollars, whatever you want, however you want to think about it. Over the next two weeks. What is mission critical in terms of jobs that I've got to fill? And so what you'll do is you'll go through, you've got 25 jobs. You can't do like four, four, four, four, because we won't let you, we usually say we need at least two jobs that equal, you know, North of 35 or 40 points. So that way, we're forcing them to say, what is most critical? And so you'll go through and you'll prioritize. Now those that are without points, we still work them, but it's in order, we're going to work that, you know, the 50 pointer first. The 15 next, and then the next 10’s and then 5’s. And then once we have everything going in the right way there, then we move on to the others that don't have points. So as a recruiter, I can come in and I can look at my dashboard and let's say, I'll cover seven different divisions, and it can be incredibly overwhelming. For each of those seven divisions I know what their priorities are, and it's already stacked up on my report. And so what I'll do is, I'll look at my 50 pointer. Where am I in that? And so that's where the WIP or work in progress limits come into play. So we created three different swim lanes. The recruiter interview sourcing lane, the hiring manager submitted being, I just submitted your resume. I'm waiting on feedback. And then the hiring manager interview. And so what our goal is, is to have a max of five interviews with the manager, five waiting on them to have some kind of feedback, and then maybe have two or three in my back pocket. Once I hit that WIP limit on that 50 pointer, I move on to my next one.And so whenever COVID hits, you know, we shut down our branches to drive through only, and a branch manager. You know, we did that for, I think, about a month and a half. And. It was interesting to me because this is high volume and we came to a screeching halt, but it really forced the executive to say, okay, I need a minimum of four people in that office for it to run this office over here has two. This office over here has three. So this one is a 50, that one's a 40, and the recruiters were able to spend more time on the critical roles than just trying to take some easy hits. Max: It would have taken them three, four months to adapt to the new normal.Trent: Easily! Max: With this advance it was clear, you know. How do we keep the lights on, and change everything real fast to change the priorities without having to hold every project? Trying to centralize the decision-making. Trent: Yeah, but what's cool is that we didn't change the priority. Our client owns that priority. Our job is to execute on it. And so I always tell the team, the point is to define success in the eyes of the client. So what we do is we'll track, you know, what percentage of points do we get? So if the budget's a hundred and we closed 45, of course, it's 45%. We want to see an increase sprint over sprint. And if it decreases. Then that's where, I mean, nobody can hide in sprint.So, if we've hit our WIP limit and the managers have not given us 48 hours, or they have not given us feedback in 48 hours. We have rules of engagement where we go to the client and say, you are becoming an obstacle. How do we work together and get this done? Same thing on my side. Yeah. If an executive calls and says, you know, we don't have any candidates.If I look and I see that we're at our WIP limit and I go: No, we actually do! Have you talked to your manager? This is what I'm showing. Or, yeah, you know, you're right. That's a 50 pointer, I need to get with, you know, Susie Q who's a recruiter, and find out what's wrong, is there a sourcing issue with the candidate flow? Do you need more resources?So we were able to move quicker, of course more agile. It's kind of cliche to say, but we were a lot more flexible. So in our critical areas that had a huge hiring volume, we had others that were normally kind of our main stage. They had stopped hiring and they were kind of violating budget. I was quickly able to move a lot of resources over and make sure that we were able to keep that level of client service that we want.And for the most part, we have a couple of glitches, but for the most part, it worked. And the thing that I loved is watching. Yeah. Cause all 28 people report directly to me, which can seem overwhelming if you look at it in an old chart, but it's not because they'll look as a team where are the points? And if I've got capacity, I'm going to reach out to Veronica. Hey, are there any sprints, any jobs that have points that you don't have time for that I can take? And then they take it and they run with it. And so there were several times I'm in one on one. Yeah, yeah. So that to me has created a lot of efficiency.So now my eyes are going even more so to the AI ML, and looking at products and saying: how can we increase that funnel of candidates? Do it by eliminating the bias? Which is one of the things I love about AI, is removing that bias that all of us have. So increasing that funnel, but then also increasing that candidate experience and thus increasing the efficiency of our recruiting team. So to me it's just like hand in hand. You can't have one without the other. Max: If operations are running, and the clients are kept happy then you've bought yourself some room to do automation and to reinvent your process next year. And that makes a lot of sense. It sounds like you have a lot more to say on this sprints recruiting, and this means applying the agile. I myself have been thinking about different environments where we could apply it outside of the banking world, and how it would be adapted, maybe even in a high volume recruitment situation where clients are of a different nature, perhaps.We can have a follow up discussion on this topic, if you're interested, but in the meantime, working people could work in finding out more about the sprint recruiting methodology. Do you have some, some visual resources, that you can send them to? Trent: Absolutely. So they can connect with me on LinkedIn. It's really easy. linkedin.com/trentcotton and, I've got a blog out there, blog website, sprintrecruiting.com, and I share a lot of bots, you know, things that we've discovered... Yeah, you know, I try. And I'm actually, I'm writing a book and my goal… If I keep up with everything that I should be doing, I should have, in the editor's hands, the first part of December and ready to release in January.But to your point, I've actually talked to a lot of companies outside of banking, and you know, they ask: How can you apply it? And, you know, is it the same? So for me, It's kind of a curiosity of going, okay, well this works here. I wonder if it works in a different industry? So, you know, I'm kind of doing some consulting on the side with them. You know, just how do they implement it? And try to understand their recruiting process. And for me, it's fun because I also learn how somebody outside of, you know, I've worked in other industries, but you know, how does healthcare takes sprint recruitment and apply it? But then, what is healthcare doing that maybe we should do?You know there are some things that, you know, some complexities that they have that we don't, and they're able to get around it. How? And, how can we apply that competency, here at the bank? So to me, it's just fun. I like to geek out whenever it talks about talent acquisition, you know, the leadership development within TA and of course, AI and ML.Max: Let's book another call, another interview to talk about the idiosyncrasies of hiring heads and hiring managers in different industries and the different ways that they can make us miserable. Trent: Yeah.Max: Trent, thanks for sharing on the sprint recruiting methodology. And guys, you can connect on sprintrecruiting.com, if I got that right, and on LinkedIn, Trent Cotton. And, looking forward to reconnecting, Trent. Trent: All right. Sounds great. Thank you so much, Max. Max: That was Trent Cotton from BBVA, telling us about sprint and recruiting.And you could practically feel the excitement, the fact that there was too much to communicate in a 30 minute window. So I hope we'll get Trent back on the show, and I hope you investigate this sprint recruiting concept and how it can apply to your world. If you enjoyed it, subscribe and share. We look forward to seeing you back on the recruitment hackers space!
24 minutes | 3 months ago
Getting Ready for the Big Recruitment Rebound in the RPO Industry - Craig Sweeney, Senior VP of Global Strategic Solutions at WilsonHCG
Welcome to the recruitment hackers podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: Hello everybody. And welcome back to the recruitment hackers podcast. I'm Max and I invited today to our podcast, Mr. Craig Sweeney, from WilsonHCG. Welcome Craig. Craig: Hi Max. I'm glad to join you today. Max: Thank you. Thank you for joining and putting yourself in front of the computer on such a beautiful sunny day. I can see the weather is unusually balmy in Manchester.Craig: It really is. Yes, this is the one day of the year the sun comes out and it's not cloudy and raining, which anybody who's been to Manchester before would know is the usual lab, usual blend of weather we have here. Max: Amazing, amazing. Here in Hong Kong, we are locked at home, unable to go to work because of a tiger flu. So, it'll come your way. It should get there in about three months time.Craig: Stay safe.Max: So Craig tell us what you do, and what your company does! Craig: Okay. So, we'll say HCG, for those of you who don't know, is an organization. We are a talent consultant firm largely built around RPO solutions, but then more broadly around anything really that links to talent acquisition, from a consulting perspective, from continuing workforce solutions, as well as our kind of core RPO solutions.My role is within the business areas, as part of our executive team, I lead everything around new plan engagements. I've got a global team that stretches from Japan, Singapore, through Europe and then into North America. And within my remit is our new business growth team. We've got our solutions team and then our implementation function. So essentially my group owns everything before a client actually goes live and becomes a client of ours. Max: Okay. New solutions team, you call it. Right?Craig: Yeah. So we've got a technical solutions team that helped to architect the solutions that we're actually putting in place for clients, both commercially, but also in terms of their structure. When they're complex global solutions, it takes some detailed kind of building out to have the right capability. And particularly when that's encompassing things that aren't just, you know, one type of hiring. It may be that we're hiring for specialist roles, high volume roles, graduate and internships or within the same solutions. Building that out and making sure we've got the right team to deliver for our clients when it's on a kind of medium or large scale, is often quite complex.Max: I guess, the bigger, the volume, the more technology seeps in. And then the lower the volume, the more an organization like yours will be competing with maybe smaller staffing firms. Is that a fair statement? Craig: I would say increasing technology is important in most scales of solutions that we build out. Because, I think even for those organizations that are maybe just recruiting in the, you know, in the hundreds, rather than the thousands. Having the right technology in place to help fulfill their critical business impact in roles, through whether or not last through engagement attraction, or building our future talent pipelines is all really important.Creating a great candidate experience and making sure we're out competing some of the other businesses that are trying to hire the same talent is super important. Max: Well, you may have seen in the news that there's been a little bit of M&A this year in the technology space. Just last week, there was a company called Elio that was acquired by HireVue. There was a Sunroom in the UK that was aquired as well over the summer. It seems to me that video. I don't know if it's hot or not, because sometimes, I mean, it's definitely being talked about a lot in the age of remote hiring and work from home hiring, as the killer app, you know, 15 or 20 years after its conception. This is a first situation. But at the same time it looks like those companies never really got to the next stage. And I'm thinking, I'm thinking about it because you're talking about, you know, hundred of hires and I guess with these kind of environments, video interviewing, even then, you know, for an executive hire, you don't know if you're going to use video interviewing for an executive level hire, basically, right? It's going to be a little bit awkward to do an asynchronous video interview. Craig: Yeah, I think it's interesting, you know, video interviewing and as you say, it's been around for many years. I think right now, everybody in this short space of time with everything that everybody's gone through over the last six months, eight and months, yeah. Video technology has just become part of everybody's life. You know, if I'd ever talked to my parents about doing a video call, you know, a year ago, they would have gone, wow, that's crazy. Or, you know, people actually thinking about doing interviews over video, they would have said that's not possible but actually now.I think it's just crept into society and that's when you really start seeing, I think, change happened very quickly when it just becomes accepted that this is a way that people operate. So it doesn't surprise me that, you know, video is kind of the core of some of those acquisitions right now.Max: But now these companies have to add other things. Right? Because video is so omnipresent and everywhere that it's just not enough to do just video. Right? Craig: I agree. Max: That's the realization. And so, are the big guys, like the big enterprise software companies like SAP and Oracle, do they have a live video native solution? Do you know? Craig: I don't believe so, but whether or not there's products that are in development, possibly, Max: They can always do bargains anyway.Craig: Yeah, exactly.Max: And so, this is a very general question, for an RPO recruitment process outsourcing specialist. You're asked to deliver a number of hires. Right? A number of hires and then retention after that. Probably those are your two key driving metrics. With that, do you also get certain targets around? Like we want you to replace. You know, we want you to change this process and we want you to change this piece of technology? Or it's more of a, you know, deliver the heirs at whatever cost you want, and using whatever technology you want we just want the results?Craig: Yeah. I've been in and around RPO since, before it was called RPO. It was, you know, before it even took on that title. And I think if you look at the history of how RPO has evolved and developed. If we were talking 15 years ago, RPO was very much a transactional solution for most organizations where it was around. How do we deliver on a certain volume of hiring and just do that quicker and more effectively and often at lower costs than we're doing it ourselves today? I think over the course of the last five years in particular, maybe slightly longer, the strategic capability of RPO’s has just exponentially grown.So I think, although those measures that you mentioned before are still a component part of what we have when we're delivering for our clients. So it is still around, you have avoidment of firing and some of those key metrics that we have to operate to and that, but actually it's a much more holistic solution now where we are looking at technology that we're bringing to the table either to provide a better candidate experience, provide better capabilities to be able to pipeline or engage with talent, create the best candidate experience, provide better data, to be able to kind of tell the story around what's happening with hiring, but also process redesign. And the measures that we are now looking at, in terms of the measures that we’re measured against. Aren't just on volume they're on things like, DEI. So how we can help drive better, diversity in organizations as well as just actually deliver the candidates, and make the hires. So it's a much more, sophisticated business impact solution rather than a transactional solution RPO started out many years ago. Max: It sounds like it's getting more complexity. Maybe one area where things are getting a little more simplicity would be that in 2020, there is consolidation, at least on the tech stack and some companies merging into others. And perhaps that'd be a little bit of a relief for professionals in your field, that instead of having a hundred solutions to choose from, now we have 80. Is that a pain in your back? To walk into customers and every time they've got, you know, I don't know how many TA tech solutions they usually come with. What's the typical number that you walk into?Craig: Yeah, well, in terms of, you know, if we’ve got just the baseline applicant tracking system then yeah, we work with most of those and have done it at some point. But again, our role is to kind of look at those, make sure they're operating effectively. Clients never liked their applicant tracking systems.Max: Is universal!Craig: Yeah it's universal, but often it's because they've been installed or implemented. And they no longer kind of build, they no longer fit around the processes that have changed, but the technology has not changed to keep up with it. So they're trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Part of our role is to help actually either reconfigure the technology or redesign the processes or both.But your point on what technology we bring, that's unique to each solution that we're building out. And, you know, I think what we avoid doing is just implementing technology for the sake of technology. There's got to be an output there. There's got to be a reason why technology is put in place. It has got to have a benefit and that's going to be different depending on the type of hiring, the locations, the language and various other things that might impact the type of technology that we're building out. But yeah, fortunately, we've got an internal innovation team that does a lot of the assessments around technology and then advice and guidance around what technologies would fit into a particular tech stack, if there's an existing tech stack, because again, not all technologies fit into every tech stack and integrate well. So I think the challenge is less of a challenge for us. It's actually a benefit for us to have that team to advise our clients. And the reason we have that team is that internal TA factions often don't have the luxury of being able to have people that are technology specialists, and with so many technologies on the market right now doing various different parts of the end to end TA process, choosing the right ones, becomes increasingly difficult. Because they're actually, there are a lot of good technologies out there and the list is growing almost week over week.Max: Yeah, well, maybe not this week, you know, but most weeks for sure. And your role would entail a lot of traveling, you know, pre 2020, I presume.Craig: Absolutely. Yeah. So I probably spent maybe two thirds of my time traveling, or at least 50% of my time traveling over the last four or five years, both to around Europe and North America and Asia as well. And yeah, this year has been very different. No planes, no trains. it's all been, yeah. Working from home and I've enjoyed it. Enjoyed the time because it's just given you time to kind of reflect and think in a way that when you're traveling so much, it becomes difficult to have that time to do that reflection. And I look forward to the day when I can go and do that again, but I don't wish for that to come too soon. Max: I had the opposite reaction where initially I thought, I don't have any more time to think because I used to think while I'm traveling, when I'm on the plane in the air. But I do have a tremendous amount of time though, that was created by eliminating travel. And in your line of work, I imagine that's been replaced by double the amount of zoom meetings and teams and all that. Craig: Yeah. It has and that was kind of part and parcel of what I would do in my role every day. Anyway, because we're a global team, we're not kind of spending our days in the same office. We're often in parts of the world, in different time zones. And so Zoom was pretty familiar prior to this year, but certainly became more so over the last few months. Max: I'd like to, to dig a little bit, deeper into the art of sourcing, which is perhaps the area where your clients would, you know, the pain points where your clients would first come to you and say, we're not getting enough quality candidates. Can you bring in the experts? Because our internal talent acquisition team is just not finding the talent. Is that part of the business? I have two questions here. One part is if that part of the business changed in 2020? and how? And then, maybe a word about, you know, how much sourcing can be automated, or rather, what are the limits of automation when it comes to sourcing? What still needs to be done manually? So I blurted out my two questions in a row and you can answer them in whichever order you'd like.Craig: Yeah. So, in terms of where technology and sourcing are kind of crossing and the benefits is I think, you know, technology can be used really effectively to outreach and do the initial engagement, with candidates. And take that through a certain element of the process of actually initial engagement. But I think it's more effective in certain roles than others. I think it's more effective at doing that with high volume rather than more niche skills. Because I think, in the market today, even though we're seeing high levels of unemployment in lots of different places, I think there's still a higher demand for highly skilled talent.Max: Yeah. Craig: And often it's a human interaction and human contact. I think that helps to make that engagement more effective in the first instance. But certainly engaging candidates through the recruitment life cycle, technology can have a great impact there because I think being able to access and get responses 24/7 at a time that's convenient for the candidate is really helpful. Through whatever platform that might be. But certainly on higher volume hiring where it's maybe, you know, lower skilled, often, like I said, larger scale, candidate pools, there's definitely a greater element of technology being able to manage candidates through that sourcing cycle.But again, I think, where we look at that is not necessarily taking humans out of the process. Is maybe freeing up people's time through technology to have a greater impact, at a further point in the hiring process because quality engagement is still really important. Max: And, the first part of my question about whether the sourcing activities have changed in 2020, you said, that the jobs that are hard to find are still hard to find. So we'll be thinking typically engineers and data scientists and the likes, and then industry specialists. And so that, you know, the nature of your business has not really changed much in that sense from 2020, from the source design. Craig: I think one of the things we've definitely seen in the last quarter is, I think what's happened with COVID and the economic kind of downturn that we saw occured from March, April onwards, is TA functions were heavily reduced. Often down to bare bones or nothing at all. So we found that as the kind of return to work and that bounce in the economy started to happen, those organizations that don't have a capability at all, are looking to kind of give them a sourcing arm that can be very flexible and built around their needs so it can ramp up quickly. It can scale, but it can also scale back. And I think right now that's important for so many businesses, cause they still have uncertainty in the future. Max: And i've read that. You were there maybe, that 2009 - 2010 were good years for the RPO industry. Craig: They were. Yeah, I think, you know coming out of the economic, the financial crash in 2008, a very similar scenario where, you know, organizations were very uncertain about what was to come. And particularly in places like Europe, where if you're employing people on a permanent basis, it's not easy always to kind of make those adjustments to your business and reduce the workforce if you need to. Because the labor laws don't allow that, but having a partner that can scale up and build around those needs and scale further if needed. But scale back if the hiring ramp slows down.Max: So those cuts have been made and they would typically have been made in the areas where automation was most feasible and according to your reasoning. And I agree with it, most that automation would be more on the high volume side of the business, and there would be more opportunities for RPO vendors and perhaps vendors like us to do more in the high volume space, the high volume of space should be a big opportunity in 2021. Craig: My prediction is that all hiring is going to be at an altitude in 2021. I don't think it will be limited to high volume. I think it will be hiring, right across the board. And certainly, you know, one of the areas we're seeing a huge amount of activity right now is around sales hiring, that's from enterprise sales right away through sales consultants across clients. And that's because people are trying to call back their losses that they've seen in the early parts of the year. And I think that will kind of drive through, into next year's plans as well. Max: For me some of these recruiters will be able to reconvert themselves into sales people. Craig: Yeah. Quite possibly. Max: Not that hard of a transition if you're good at it. Right? And, okay. Well we've talked about, you know the kind of customers that come to you and which kind of scenario. Would you have any thoughts to spare on the kind of customers that you do not want to work with? And maybe, we don't have to share names, but customers that have broken your heart or broken your spine, and what went wrong there? Craig: Yeah I think we have some really great customers that we've talked with and I used that word really purposefully. They are great customers that partnered with us. And I think when we've historically maybe had relationships that haven't worked out as well as we would've liked. It's where there's an expectation that we are there as a delivery arm to the business, rather than the operator. Max: You're going to blame it on the sales guys! Of course. Oh, it's their fault. Craig: No, not the sales guys I think it's just about having the right expectations set, you know, for hiring to be successful whether or not it's pure intel or whether or not you're working with a partner like us, there's got to be kind of a skin in the game and there's gotta be, an upside for everybody to want to work together. And that is the way that things kind of land really well. It is when we're operating in that kind of true partnership, where we have the same goals and outcomes that our clients have.Max: Well, I'm trying to read between the lines here. So the nightmare scenario is you're being kind of pegged against an internal team.Craig: No, not pegged against an internal team. I think it's where we're being asked to deliver on something where we maybe haven't had the ability to shape or build or give input into, to how something should be delivered. Or when we have stakeholders that don't have an upside from our success. And the stakeholders need to benefit from us doing well for it to work. With the vast majority of the clients and the partnerships we have in place. That's absolutely the case because we build all our solutions. Max: I have tried to sell automation, sometimes to the wrong HR professionals. So I think I can relate with that kind of scenario. And also the scenario where people don't adapt their process, where we would say, no we are an engagement tool at the front of the funnel. Do not ask the candidates 10 video interview questions on messaging, like it's going to break. And no! That's what we want. That's what we're going to get. Okay. You know, we wasted so much resources trying to please people sometimes, it's rare, but it does happen. Craig: Yeah. I think like yourselves, you know, where there to be advisors that's our role is to help resolve people's challenges and their problems with better solutions. And I think there's, again, where we do that and it's successful is where the client actually wants to listen and adapt to our guidance and important advice. Max: And, what's the customer you've been working with for the longest time? Or you don't want to say names? Craig: Oh, wow. Yeah. We've got clients today that were the first clients that we ever started working with. So, you know they've been relationships for, you know, decades.Max: That's nice. Well, I hope they had a decent 2020, and that you're right about what's coming this year, and all of that business coming in. Thank you very much, Craig for participating and sharing your insights on how the RPO industry has shifted or it seems like it has not shifted that much. A little bit less traveling for you, but overall, it's been a good year and things are heating up at the European market in Q3.Craig: Great. Thank you, Max. Have a good rest of your day!Max: Thank you, Goodbye Craig!That was Craig Sweeney from WilsonHCG, giving us hope for tomorrow and the big rebound of the recruitment at RPO industry. Hope you enjoyed it. Subscribe if you did. And if there's somebody that you'd like me to interview as part of the podcast, you can send me their names too directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll contact them directly and invite them to tell us their secrets. Thank you for listening and see you soon.
24 minutes | 3 months ago
Sourcing and Hiring in the Healthcare Sector Today - Director of TA Blake Thiess from Prestige Care
Welcome to the recruitment hackers podcast. A show about innovation, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush, the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers podcast with max. And today I'm pleased to welcome on the show Blake Thiess from Prestige Care. Welcome to the show, Blake. Blake: Yeah. Hey, thanks for having me Max. Really excited to be here and just chat with you about all things recruiting. Max: Absolutely. Great.Well, we're interested in finding out more about Prestige Care and in the midst of this 2020 pandemic I imagine you have encountered some pretty unique operational challenges trying to bring in people to your facilities, tell us a little bit about, as an introduction, who you are what you do at prestige care and then maybe a little bit about your company.Blake: Yeah, no doubt, Max. Thanks. So, I'm the Director of Talent Acquisition for Prestige Care and we own and operate over 80 assisted living and skilled nursing care centers up and down the West coast of the United States. Mainly in Oregon and Washington, but our footprint does extend down into California, Arizona, Nevada.We have one up in Anchorage, Alaska one in Kalispell, Montana, but really, and truly we're a Pacific Northwest company, family owned and operated since day one, over 35 years ago, we employ about 5,000 people in that eight state geographic footprint. And we serve about 5,000 residents. That's what we call them.They're not patients, they’re residents. We live and work in their homes. In my role with Prestige Care, I oversee the entire Talent Acquisition function for a half a billion dollar enterprise with over 80 locations, all areas of talent, acquisition recruiting, whether it be, overseeing the ATS, the employment brand, any sort of TA or recruiting technology integration.Anything involving talent acquisition recruiting. I oversee, I live and breathe this stuff. I love what I do. And most importantly, I love who I get to do it with. Outside of just the professional realm here at Prestige. I'm able to speak at a local and national level on all things recruiting and talent acquisition as well, which is something I really love to do.So, that's a little bit about me and Prestige Care really from the macro, Max. Max: Thank you. Great. And, those 5,000, headcount over the West coast. Could you give us a feel for where the bulk of your hiring is? I imagine a lot of registered nurses. Blake: Yeah. Good assumption there, Max.Yeah, the vast majority of the folks that we employ are clinical in nature. So those certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, that's on the skilled nursing vertical of our business. On the assisted living memory care side, we're going to split right down the middle half of those 80 are skilled nursing facilities.And then the other half are assisted living memory cares. On the AL side, the lion's share of those that we employ are personal care attendants. Some outfits might call them caregivers, medication technicians, people who distribute medication. But, we also employ a number of different operational tech professionals that work in these locations.So you're talking: facilities, we call them maintenance professionals, many culinary professionals: cooks, line cooks, dishwashers, chefs, people of that nature, really any type of professional to, you know, oversee and help run a skilled nursing or assisted living community. Max: I'm actually paying a visit or a friend in a nursing home later today.I don't know what the food is like at Prestige, but in my case, I'm always bringing him a little bit of food from the outside world. Blake: Well, you know, I've been able to visit. I mean, I've been here for over five years, a little over two of those years have been in my director of TA role and I've been to probably half of them.And I'm not just saying this. Our food is terrific. You know, if you go to our jobs at Prestige, LinkedIn, Facebook page. I actually like to post photos of the food that our chefs prepare. I'm telling you, it looks like a straight off Instagram, Max.Max: Wow. Well, I could see why you're in recruitment. Because you're a strong salesman, but I reserve… I'd like to believe it when I see it. Before we jump into maybe this pandemic matter, the type of people that you hire. I mean, of course when we think, assisted care living immediately, we think doctors and nurses, but then there's all this other stuff that's around it, where maybe they're a little bit less demanding on qualification, but just as demanding, if not more on soft skills, like empathy and the likes. How have you, sort of structured and automated your pre-screening in order to find the right talents there, particularly for those folks who are interacting with the patients on a daily basis?Blake: Yeah. Good question. I wish I had some groundbreaking answer for you, Max. But you know, ever since the pandemic hit in mid to latter March. You know, it has been a challenge. I don't know how else to say that. I mean, it's, here's a great example. So, I sit on the class advisory boards for our applicant tracking system, which is Healthcare Source.And so I have access to all data points and things. And I was sitting in a meeting yesterday or pardon me last week, week, before. Year over year for all of the Healthcare Source clients, they have seen a 40% decrease in overall applications for certified nursing assistants year over year, you know, in the RN rates, 25 to 30% decrease in overall applications.And so I wish I had a really great answer on how we've leveraged AI or tech to understand, somebody’s empathy quotient for instance, or something of that nature. But honestly, the volume of our applicants has just bottomed out. So, you know, I hate saying this, but you know, if somebody pre-qualifies, if they're a CNA or if they have that RN license and they have any sort of relevant experience, we're going to talk with them.That's just the reality of the market that we're in right now, especially the last six, seven, eight months. Max: Okay. Well, that does ring familiar. Yes. So sourcing is where the battle is and expanding the talent pool will make you do desperate things sometimes, go in places you wouldn't go. One area, which has seen a lot of growth, we’ve seen in 2020 is the rise of Facebook jobs as a sourcing platform. Have you been able to get some of your healthcare — we don't have to spill the beans on your trade secrets — just out of curiosity, is that an area where you're seeing a little bit of traffic?Blake: Yeah. You know, we were leveraging Facebook, and Instagram to build our employer brand long before March, 2020, you know, pre COVID. To build our brand, to get visibility out in the marketplace. So I wouldn't say that we've necessarily doubled or tripled down on our efforts there.I think there's opportunity there for us and quite frankly, any organization, but I think what might be a value to them, those listening is, you know, we actually piloted a new way in which we support our skilled nursing care centers out in the field. And so I've piloted, I developed this job title which was called the Regional Talent Acquisition Partner.So basically, if you take Max an HR business partner role and only, you strip away everything else, except the TA kind of recruiting function of that role, that's what I've developed. And so why that has been a big value add for our organization, it's a lot more high touch of our applicants.The Regional Talent Acquisition Partner does a lot of training and development of our onsite folks who are charged with doing the recruiting at our local level. And at the local level, they are not HR professionals and they sure as heck aren’t recruiters. These regional talent acquisition partners are doing a phenomenal job of training and developing our local operators.Number one, but number two, really driving the recruiting process forward. And that's really proven to be a game changer for us because not only are they doing a lot of cold sourcing to your point earlier, that's you know, the companies who are doing a lot of cold sourcing are really winning right now.But also it's providing more of a white glove service to our operators out in the field, which in turn, and to use business terminology, we haven't had to go into agency as much to staff these CNA, LPN and RN roles. And as such, we're saving the company a lot of money, through, well, cost savings.Max: Yeah. Yeah. Great. The one part, I guess, that the hiring managers or operators will never really get good at is, you know, they may get good at interviewing and all that. And even increasing, candidate referrals, which probably is a very important factor in your world.Because, I mean, medical professionals know other medical professionals. Right. But where they're not going to be so strong, perhaps, is digital marketing and sourcing on digital platforms, that would be the one piece that remains kind of centralized, I guess. Blake: Yeah. You know, in a perfect world I could employ a full time Talent Acquisition, digital marketer. I really could, but in the absence of that these regional talent acquisition partners are charged with building, localize employment brand and employer value proposition at the local level. So that's really how Max, that's really one of the ways in which our organization has, I'm gonna use the term responded to an unprecedented time. I've heard the term unprecedented, so many stinking times over the last seven, eight months, but it's really true. I mean, how we have evolved and just kind of rolled with the punches and, you know, really have done a phenomenal job kind of weathering this storm.I mean, there's a lot of opportunity, but, I think we're on the right track. Max: Yeah. And, the President, gave a speech yesterday saying, everybody should get over it. And beat the thing. And so, you know, maybe, that'll help your candidate pipeline, Blake: Who knows maybe. Max: And so I work with a number of people in the retail sector and they have this structure where they have also a regional sort of TA lead that goes from store to store and they do these sort of hiring events in the store or in a retail location. Then they move and every day is a different place and they have a schedule for like where they're going to go see 10 or 15 stores in the course of a month. In your regional team is that how it's set up where you have different centers within the region or it's one or two or more than that?Blake: No, it just kind of depends on the area. I mean, I have one regional talent acquisition partner that supports our buildings here locally in the Portland, Oregon Metro area. And then I have another regional talent acquisition partner who's based out in Yakima, Washington, so central and Eastern Washington.So they're, specifically geographically placed for a reason, you know, our monopoly myself, but our taps also. Uh, tried to leverage a virtual career fairs, um, uh, a vendor, which didn't get that much of a response. I know that's a big push the last, you know, four or five, six months, but, you know, we didn't get a large turnout.I think quite frankly, a big part of that was geographics. I mean, we ran a lot of these, uh, virtual career fairs in pretty remote markets where we have operations. And so that's a huge, that's a whole other topic, max, trying to. Yeah. Trying to find people in remote geographic markets, it's supply and demand one Oh one.And so that's a, a business problem. I try and solve literally every day. Max: And for that sort localized sourcing and edges of the map. What's your tool kit on the sourcing side ? Are you still going to local job boards and I am even afraid to say this print.Blake: It's really interesting that you bring that up Max as in some markets print still wins. I mean small remote local markets. It's really one way in which people find news or you know stuff like that and that is the local newspaper. So, print is not dead, ironically enough in some of our markets. But to really address your questions I mean It's tough I don't have a silver bullet. One thing we coach and teach and say at our company is that treat every, (especially in these remote locations) treat every applicant like a 10 carat diamond. But you have to roll out the carpets for these folks. But also we teach the art of pursuing them, you just can't reach out to them, leave a voicemail once and give up, you have to leave a voicemail, you have to email, you have to text, do whatever it takes to get in front of them. So, it's constantly pursuing folks leveraging technology, some kind of basic technology, it doesn't have to be revolutionary. for many of the folks that listen to your podcast.Max: You said that you were working with an ATS which is industry specific, I have never heard of it Healthcare something ?Blake: Yeah Healthcare Source is the name of it it. It’s primarily focused in the post acute space.Max: So, I guess the name tells it all they are going to help you source for healthcare.Blake: Yeah! They post our jobs to various job boards, but yes they do help source.Max: To get back to the pandemic stuff the volume of applicants has dropped. Have other metrics like show rates and candidate dropouts, has this been affected? And somebody wants the job and they get scared and stay home where they decide that I don't want to be exposed to an environment where there are alot of elderly citizens.Blake: Yeah, we don't track those kind of data points Max you know that is something we are aware of, we have run into, we can't really lean back on data but we have seen a 20% decrease. But, something that we teach ever since this whole mess started is that you need to be as transparent as possible with the people, that way they know what they are getting into if they chose to go down this path. Huge issue in late March early April was, “ohh! They are going to run out of PPE kits and it's going to be a huge thing, but honestly I was there in the office just yesterday. I have actually been going periodically over the last few months. Our office actually never closed which is funny. But we have this huge education room which is stocked full floor to ceiling of PPE. I am not concerned that we are going to run out of PPE, I have never been concerned. So you might think it's not a safe environment but all our folks are tested almost on the daily according to state regulations and I ensure that our buildings that are in states that they have really gone all in on safety. So you make the argument that these places are quite frankly safer than going into the grocery stores for instance.Max: I guess there is still plenty of people who are looking at it rationally, but you did say that volume dropped so you think volume dropped because there was a 30%... I was wondering if you see some sectors of healthcare more effective than others in terms of candidate activity. Blake: Yeah I don't know. I can't comment on what my colleagues in the acute settings are seeing. Well I know sitting on that client advisory board that some hospitals stats which is really a mirror of what we see in the skilled nursing and assisted living space. But there is a lot of school of thoughts as to why there is a drop in overall applicant here in the states for many months there was a 600$ a week kicker on unemployment on top of the unemployment, people were making a boat load of money by not working more than they were making while working as a nursing assistant at a skilled nursing facility or a caregiver. So, we ran into that quite a bit and that's a major reason why you have seen a sharp decrease and I think a lot of people are also scared to work in some of these locations, so trying to combat that false narrative has been challenging as well.Max: Wow ! Well What doesn’t... (this is going to be a bad expression) what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and applying to talent acquisition which have new stressors now in the organization. We have to find new solutions as you come out of this crisis candidate volume goes, but probably your sourcing engines will never be the same and they will be optimized in the ways that you didn't know you could.Blake: Absolutely, I believe that there is opportunity in chaos; it's the people that evolve and level up. I always kind of joke Max, if you can see massive success in cold sourcing and recruiting in skilled nursing or assisted living you can see success anywhere. As it is a challenging environment, but you know when we are pushed beyond our limits that’s where growth is, that's where we evolve as humans and professionals and I have to speak from my own practice and practice of my colleagues, we have to do different thing to scale and I am confident that we are riding this wave and becoming better .Max: So we don't sound like Tech evangelists who have had too much tech kool aid and to kind of balance it out, with some areas where tech has fallen short of its promise. Do you have some examples in mind that don't have to be recent, I mean from previous years where you tried something out and wanted to automate it but had to step back and put the human back in the loop.Blake: Good question, I can't really think of anything specific.Max: We have a lot of customers for example when they heard that we do conversational AI and chatbots and apply it to sourcing, went to completely remove their phone recruitment teams and thought that, ok! Great, we would let the bots do it and instead of reducing it they went to completely removing it and that had very adverse results and we had to find a hybrid system to work.Blake: I think Max, there are so many tech pieces out there that can help, but in the end of the day recruiting is a person talking, engaging, and hiring another person. It's human to human interaction and we need to use tech as a tool in our tool belt, but it cannot be the golden gun. You need to leverage technology and use it in your recruiting tool belt. As for Prestige we have integrated 2 pretty nice tech pieces into our practice, one is Texting out Applicant Tracking System which has helped us especially during covid and second is interview self scheduling. Our operators on the back end have been able to click a couple buttons and send messages to the candidates saying, hey select a date and time and then line up that interview and that has saved us so much time, and I guess those are few examples of not just fully relying on tech but utilizing tech as just one of the tools in your TA tool belt.Max: Yeah, for sure. Those will move needles. It’s interesting you say that text especially. I think that especially now, it makes sense that any edge you can get you shall take but text would, I don't know we kind of imagined candidates stuck at home in front their computer are more available on email than ever but maybe there are out hiking or enjoying nature, you gotta go get them. Blake: It's not a revolutionary piece of technology but at least in the skilled nursing and assisted living space there are not a lot of companies that are leveraging some on these pieces that we have been able to integrate here at Prestige Care. Max: And just a couple of years ago, by the way most of the ATS did not have text, and interview scheduling, and synchronizing it with Outlook and Gmail. They have added it, there are also those point solutions that people can use, people can usually get from their ATS, if not they can plug in something quite easily so plenty of options there.Blake we are just about out of time, thank you very much for sharing your story and I am sure some of our listeners will want to reach out to you, what's the best way to get hold of you ?Blake: Great question Max, anybody can follow me on Instagram and Twitter my handle is @BlakeInthePNW , you can find me on Linkedin machine, Blake Theiss. Outside of that you can check us out on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin. I actually run all the social media here at Prestige as a part of TA and recruiting. It's a lot of fun being able to share employee stories and things like that. I try to put out as much content as I can. Time is limited these days.I’ll say Thank you so much for the opportunity Max, I enjoyed our conversation today.Max: I’ll go and check out your social media feed and thanks for joining us and telling us the story of Prestige, sorry, in these unprecedented times.... You can check on google how many times a word has been used and this one is having a great year.Blake: Yeah, Thanks again.
12 minutes | 4 months ago
Top 5 Opportunities for your Remote Hiring Program
Welcome to the recruitment hackers podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry. Brought to you by Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platform. Max: Hello. Today we've got a real treat. On the recruitment hackers with a presentation from Jennifer Terry Tharp, who is VP of strategic initiatives at Joveo and previously in charge of talent acquisition for AT&T globally, and for recruitment marketing there. She'll be presenting the opportunities for your remote hiring program with key insights in this hot area. Enjoy it. Jenn: Thank you so much for the kind introduction and thank you everybody for your time here today. I would like to share with you that, you know, I'm not the be all - end all, but there are some opportunities in your role in the talent acquisition process. You can maybe take action! So first a bit about myself, like Max said, I'm currently the VP of strategic initiative at Joveo, which is a programmatic job platform. And I'm going to talk just a little bit about that during the presentation. Before, I worked 20 years ahead of EA and employer branding, and also did some HR Tech works and diversity work at AT&T. I am a lover of board games, really bad reality TV and a huge college football fan. So if you connect with me on LinkedIn, you will hear lots more about all of those things. To get started. I wanted to start with employer brand, right? The handshake that we have with our candidate. So anybody who has worked in employer brand knows that we always struggle with: how to be true to yourself and to your brand?And this is no different, right? A remote hiring initiative or moving to more of a remote workforce really still requires you to be you. If you're a more formal company, you need to probably show that, even in your remote workforce view. Right? So I hear a lot. I've worked remotely for probably 15 of the last 20 years and I hear all the time from friends.Oh my gosh. It must be so nice to wear your pajamas for work. And I'm sitting there thinking, are you kidding me? I work for AT&T, I don't wear my pajamas to work. Right? Like I wear a jacket or a scarf or some nice jewelry. And so really one of the biggest things if you're an employer branding that you can take away from globalization and the work from home trend as it is evolving. Is to show what remote work is like for your company!This is really your time to set mutual expectations. If the candidate is looking for that environment where it's really okay that they'd be on the beach while they're working remote. Like show that! But the reality is, if you're a more conservative company and working remote work looks like working from a home office, like I am today, it's really a good time to show that too. And some of the best ways to better show that is with actual employees. Do things like showing virtual offices, take tours that sort of stuff. The next thing is marketing. And this is really a big opportunity, but also a red. Right? So if you're going for having varying locations with specific talent pools, globalazing, and working from home, and having the opportunity to sort of spread your wings a little bit further, it allows you to expand your job search. If you're no longer reliant on hiring in Silicon Valley and you can hire anywhere, you can expand your job!One of the things that becomes difficult in that for an employer is the thought of, well, I just have one job requisition. So where do I put that job requisition? Right? It's like a real tactical, but a real life problem. And the reality is with technology like Joveo or programmatics I've ever taken in general, you can take that single job and expand it to a multitude of locations where that talent pool might be richer or your cost to employee might be lower.The other thing to be thoughtful with your marketing is, particularly if you're in an industry where a portion, let’s say, your corporate office, are going to move virtual, but you really still have sort of your point on sale employees. People that work in retail stores or maybe in a hospital or a lab. Really, you don't have the opportunity to globaliz! Right? They need to be where the people are. And so it's part of your marketing initiatives, and is also part of your employment branding. Keep in mind what your message says to those people that are still having to work in a location specific environment. And again, programmatic job advertising hits the right targets - to the right talent. So if they're local or if you have the opportunity to expand, you can do all that with one click, without having to open multiple job offers. The next area is interviews, you know, so this is when it's really interesting for me because in my time at AT&T I had a real position on this. And that was that you needed to lead with candidate experience, no matter what. Video interviews are just like phone interviews, which are just like face to face interviews. You do whatever is the most convenient to the candidate and to the process. Right? But now that we can really see each other face to face and we might want to get that communal feeling of being able to see someone before you hire them, that sort of thing. It's really important that you still lead with candidate experience.If at all possible, don't require a bunch of complicated downloads! You know, do what works best, it's sort of like, do I call you on your home phone or do I call you on your wireless? Right. So be flexible. But most importantly have empathy!And I put this down and I'm going to have to explain this a little bit to the audience, because here's the deal. I don't know how many of you have kids schooling from home right now? My dogs are right out the back door barking, like crazy trying to get in, right? Like life happens! And when everybody's worklife is happening from their home, It's already a stressful situation to be in an interview.Imagine being in an interview and just knowing that your two year old is like standing behind the glass door. Right? So just know as employers, it's really our opportunity to lead with empathy. And convey the need to hire. And then, all of that happens, and you find the perfect employee, and it's time to bring them on board but really they aren't going to go to an office to do this. Especially if you're globalizing your workforce on an ongoing basis.So how can you make that new hire experience? Still feel like one of those top five moments? You know? Like when you're getting a job, it's a really big deal. So think of virtual ways to generate excitement. I think that things like leading up to the first day, things like emails, texts, maybe a video from the hiring manager or trainer. Consider a virtual live component.I had to get huge props from one of my partners in a private agency. Heather O'Donnell. You can look her up on LinkedIn. If you're working on virtual onboarding, she did a great job even before this, on preparing a common experience for all employees, no matter their location or position. So something where in a virtual setting it feels like you're really in a live component of an onboarding. Right?Like you get to come in, you get to see people that are obviously not recorded and talking and interacting, maybe some hand raising if you're using zoom so that people can get involved or things like that. Now the virtual live component really goes a long way in establishing community. And I would be remit. Right? That would be great. Even if you have the best onboarding virtual live events ever. If I can't get to it on my company issued laptop, that's a problem. Right? So above all else, one of the biggest challenges with onboarding in a virtual environment and being sure that everyone is getting ready to start work, and is excited to be there, and you've done all this work building up to this point. Make sure that they can get in and have access. And finally, once you have employees here, teaming in a virtual ways can be difficult! So like I said, for about 17 of my last 20 years, my team has been predominantly virtual and it's a different kind of dynamic, right? Like you see things that are happening in their real life in a much more accelerated fashion.And that tends to accelerate personal connections because the reality is for all of you on this Webinar now, before the shooting ends, you'll know I have dogs. Right? And if I had kids, you would know that I have them in their school. Right? And so, because we are literally giving our colleagues a window into our personal home, it really accelerates those personal connections.And there was a varied level of comfort in that, right? Like, I'm a pretty open book and I'm glad to have you in my home and to tell you that my dogs are outside. But different people have different comfort levels with that. And as a peer, a colleague, a leader, you have to just be cognizant of that and make choices that allow for everyone to exist in the virtual team where they're comfortable. A good way to do that is optional activities. We, here at Joveo. We have a lot of happy hours. We have a book club, we have some slack channels that are more for personal things. I was not afraid to share here on my screen that this is actually a virtual happy hour. I believe it was where I got introduced to the Joveo team. And you might notice I am the one with the giant pink wig. I just, I felt like it was the time for fun. And so I challenged people, you know, to put on a funny face and our head of sales. Dressed up like a little cowboy. We had a James Bond, a few others, but we also had others that just had their names on their screen or just their daily person in their place. Right? So knowing you can normalize all of that and to make people feel comfortable wherever they're at is a crucial component to sort of closing the loop from employment brand all the way to bringing people on. And if you do this part well, these examples are teaming and catering people where they're at. Those become the proof points in your employment brand, and you continue to go full circle and really represent what your company stands for with the remote workforce, all in a cycle. I thank you for the time today!Max: There you have it. Hope you enjoyed the presentation from Jennifer and some key insights on employer branding, marketing, and interviewing. For remote hiring programs. I particularly liked how she talked about onboarding and how to make getting hired remotely a big deal, and different tricks on how to generate excitement from your new hire. Even if you're not going to see them face to face. Hope you got something out of it. And if you did, there's more to come, please sign up, follow recruitment hackers podcast, and share with your friends.
32 minutes | 4 months ago
The Benefits of a Remote Workforce (Recruitment Hackers Panel)
Welcome to the recruitment hackers podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platform. Max: This week, we'd like to show you a special episode, featuring a panel discussion from our last recruitment hackers digital conference, which was moderated by the infamous Chad Sowash, from the “Chad and Cheese Podcast.” We had some wonderful speakers for this panel discussion, including talent acquisition leaders, Ioana Mihalache, Jen Terry-Tharpe, from Genpact and former AT & T, respectively. And we spoke about the benefits of a remote workforce and notably, how those benefits, will impact the world of talent acquisition. I was part of that discussion and we had a lot of fun, so I hope you enjoy it. Chad: Hello. Hi everybody. My name is Chad. I am the smarter, more handsome half of the “Chad and Cheese Podcast.”It's really not saying a lot. If you want an insider's view of what's happening in HR, you can definitely listen to Max's podcast or you can listen to HR’s most dangerous podcast. That's at chadcheese.com. I've personally been in recruiting and technology, for over 20 years working and consulting with major fortune 500 companies, actually building a recruitment technology.And developing hiring programs. Let's just say I was with monster.com before it was actually called monster. And I've also worked remotely for over eight years now. So let's just, let's start off this way. And let's say, Jen, how long have you been working remote? Jen: So I did the math after my session cause I kind of made a general statement. So I'd been working remotely for at least 50% of the last 17 years. Chad: 50% of the time over the last 17 years. Okay... I think you've got me beat... What about you Ioana? Ioana: I've been remote, I think I've been partially remote and partially in office. I've always had teams spread across continents, countries, for a at least the past six years. I'll be conservative six years. Chad: Right. And Max, correct me if I'm wrong. For the most part, your teams are,mainly remote, is that correct? Max: Yup. Yeah, we've got 60 people working in Talkpush and well, of course everybody is remote now, but even before the pandemic, I would say, you know, maybe a third of the team would come in a third of the week. So. Yeah, a third, and 10% occupancy inside of the office. We offer everybody access to an office and it's like a hybrid environment, but they don't have to come. We do encourage them to come and socialize once in a while, but that's that. Chad: What we've seen. Or at least what's been reported in surveys, etc, etc. Companies are experiencing high productivity. From their newly remote staff, from all these individuals who have not worked remote before, that are now working remote, and they're seeing productivity for a variety of reasons. We can talk about that later. Do you believe this type of productivity is actually sustainable for the workforce? Or are we pushing them too hard right out of the gate? Jen? Jenn: You know, it's interesting productivity is relative, right? Sure. Because you don't have some of the prep things to do. Like the newness of this might generate kind of a temporary outlift, but I also think that once it gets normalized. People start to like, have to divide the lines between work and home a little bit more. I believe over time it starts to normalize a little bit. But I will tell you, I always felt like I credited my company, my commute. So whatever my commute was that I would normally have to make when I would sit in my office. And I credited my company, the commute.Chad: For the most part though, that's not the case, right? I mean, pretty much the company sees the commute as a part of doing business. So, I mean. In the US, I know that we're seeing high productivity, I think for, for the most reason is because people want to stay on, they're afraid of COVID and they're afraid of being downsized. So they're seeing just crazy amounts of productivity. Are you seeing that throughout the rest of the rest of the world as well? Ioana: We have, we have noticed that, and it's not only in recruitment. We have noticed that across the company. You know, Green SLA is across, lots of business results that have improved intensively. Which was surprising and unexpected. Is it sustainable? I'm not really sure, but yes, we have seen this trend across the US and outside of the US as well. Chad: Okay. So, so Jen?Jenn: Let's just be real. We don't have anything else to do. Right? That's a part of it.Chad: We have lives to live! I mean, that's the problem in the US, we live to work instead of like the rest of the world. For the most part, not Japan. You know, they work to live. I mean, that's a cultural type of a thing, and we're taking it to the nth degree. And we really need to be able to separate it, right?Jenn: For sure. And, and I would just add that I probably was five years then before I realized that I had to designate an end time. Right. Otherwise I would just keep working and I'd look up and I'd be like, Oh, I need to eat and go to bed. Right. So I think that that's a real thing probably all over the world.Chad: Ioana?Ioana: Yeah. I wanted to share a very close experience. With you know, when you have to go to bed straight out after work. When you just stand out from your desk and go to bed. I've seen that taking a toll on many people actually, that are very close to me. WHo have been less organized with time management, who have been less used to working from home and getting disciplined and organized and becoming resilient. You know, how do you separate that when you're at home? So I think it's real and I think. That's the reason, I don't think it's sustainable in the long term. Unless we do something ourselves and we educate ourselves and we become self resilient with our discipline to separate. And, you know, COVID or no COVID, like Chad said, we still have a life, whatever that may mean now, we still have to take care of that piece.Chad: So, Max being the CEO, isn't that a leadership stance. I mean, shouldn't the leader say, look, I don't want to burn you guys out. I want you to work and I want you to be efficient, but I love what Ioana is saying. She's saying, Hey, look, I think we need to look in the mirror, but most people won't do that. Isn't that a leadership and management kind of a stance that we need to really focus on? As we know, remote working will probably be a much larger part of the workforce as we move forward.Max: Yeah. I mean, I've got a very sort of an always changing team because we're growing and our technology is changing and the composition of the team changes. And you know, some people certainly have complaints about the 24-seven, sort of messaging the pace at which we're in. Chad: You are a global company!Max: At the same time. They're, you know, they're joining a tech startup. The global company thing is rough. Right. Cause I mean, right now for me it's 3:00 AM and I want us to be on this call. But it's okay. I just took a nap in the middle of the afternoon, so I'm okay. I'd say that generally. I try to encourage people to take it easy if they can, but I also, as a business owner, if people want to put in, you know, their heart and soul into their work and putting in long hours like, who am I to stop them? I mean, it works wonderful. I'm not going to slow this down.Chad: Yeah. It's just the whole thought process of burnout. Right. So, Jen, I want to flip over real quick, and I want to talk about, we didn't see COVID coming. Right? So all of you get a pass, all of you, talent acquisition managers and business leaders, you get a pass. This was a blip on the radar. Nobody saw it. One thing that's not going to be a blip on the radar though, is when we flip that switch to hiring and we need to scale properly, and that's going to be par amount for us overall as businesses to be able to service those different segments of our business, whether it's sales, marketing, product. Right? Overall. So I guess the biggest question is when you were at AT & T, what kind of changes were you pressing for, to help with scale? Because you guys deal with hiring under a crazy amount of numbers. Right? How did you scale? Jenn: Yeah, it's really interesting. I sort of touched on it during my presentation and quite honestly, it's one of the reasons that when I left AT & T, I came to Joveo to work on programmatic advertising because the reality is the time of post and prey on things like Monster or CareerBuilder. Those really aren't sustainable, particularly when the volume of hiring candidates flows so much, right? Like going out and buying 200 job postings at the beginning of the year. Isn't something that we're probably looking at doing.This has taught us that, right? Like we shouldn't hedge our bets. So we should pay for what we need. And so I think a combination of that, and being able to scale quickly without having to have a really heavy investment on commoditized job postings. I think that that will be a thing, but then also the idea that all of these professions where the availability was so compressed, right? Like, think about how many, how hard it was. Find a data scientist in New York city. Right? Like all of those things that were real, when we came into this, when we came out, now we can globalize that now that I can look in somewhere else, it's so much easier. Right?Chad: I mean, but AT & T was incredibly progressive. If you came to that thinking, I mean, Ioana, will you guys stay in more of this kind of like a remote stance where you will seek talent globally, as opposed to just in those regions and segments? Ioana: Yes and no. I don't think we have a clarity of vision at this point. What we do know is that we do want to keep employees safe. So we're staying remote as of now. And for as long as we'll have to. I don't think we've made the final decision on whether or not we are simply borderless across the world. And live and work wherever they see fit. Chad: What stops you from sort of thing? What stops you from doing that? Because obviously you're doing it now. And we had so many companies beforehand said, Oh no, we can't do this remote thing. They were forced into remote and, from what I'm hearing, what I'm thinking and what I'm seeing, is we're going to see a regression. And I don't know what the reason is behind the regression. What's the reason? Ioana: I am thrilled you're asking this. Because I myself don't understand it. But the behavior that I've seen is with our operations, our senior managers, our leadership, they seem to be kind of putting obstacles to themselves in going for it and being brave about it. And I think what it is that it takes a lot more personal effort to make something work in a remote virtual environment. It does for me, right? It takes a lot more time. It takes a lot more calls. It takes a lot more personal energy that I have to put into making everything work remote. So I think it's coming from a place of maybe I don't want to put in so much effort and coming back to the office, which is something, you know, we were entitled to in the past. Coming to office, having a place to be and not having things be so difficult.We do a lot of work with voice processes as we call them, like customer service support, support for collections, you name it. So managing such a team in a remote environment has proven to be quite challenging. And of course we've developed all sorts of tools and mechanisms to do it, but it does take a toll on your time and on your energy.So I think a lot of it comes from the fact that maybe someone is not really open to putting so much in. They simply want to have a place. Where nine to five is what they have to do. And then. Life happens after that. That 's my opinion. Chad: It feels like we all need to go back to the cave at this point, really. Max question around scalability and how many companies are actually coming to you today to talk about, because they're in a situation they've never been in before, where they've been pressed to go remote and they need tech to be able to enable that. They can't do that just with Skype. They can't do that just with Zoom. They need platforms to be able to help them do that. I mean, what was the difference between the phone ringing before and emails versus after COVID?Max: Well, to be honest, nobody calls anymore. It's all on messaging. You know, I don't want to paint a too optimistic picture of where the market is at, because a lot of people got furloughed, sacked, budgets have got cuts and people are looking after, covering their assets, to use the Chad and Cheese parlance. The phone isn't ringing crazy, but what's happening is with our existing customers, the volumes are going up considerably. And of course, nobody is doing it in person; it's an offline kind of event. Career fairs are dead. Everything is moving to virtual.Volumes are going up. There are more job seekers and maybe there's less recruiters to handle them. So eventually these are macro trends that do work in favor of technology. And will favor a few employers more than others. And the ones that are most inspiring are the ones who have jumped the gun and say, okay, this is it. This is how we're going to operate from now on. And we're going to change the way we hire. And I understand how difficult that transition is. I understand what Ioana was talking about when she was saying people just want to go back to the office and be able to clock in and clock out and measure attendance as a way of managing, because it's so much easier. But in your first question you were saying, you were asking me about the work life balance. I spent so much time motivating the team. Do I have to tell them about work life balance too? I'd rather just continue to just motivate, motivate, motivate, cause it's a full cycle. Chad: Oh, I'm sure. I'm sure. And drink as many red bulls as you can. Jen, in the last 5 years, what does this industry look like? How has it changed? Have we regressed back into the hole we were in before? We're an industry that does not adopt technology as quickly as sales and marketing. Will we advance faster? Will this actually give us the kick in the ass that we need? Or we will just go ahead and get sucked right back in the hole? Jenn: It depends. Right? Is your location a suck you back in the hole location? Is your company that kind of place, right? In the chat, JB says our employee surveys are showing us that employees want to stay at home full or a blended model. I think that sentiment remains the same. The heavy lift here is for HR particular, in talent acquisition and how we structure things. It's really about our hierarchy, right?Who in your chaine is willing to be brave? Or are we stuck in sort of our social norms? Because the reality is, if we're looking at this from a strategic, how do we attract talent? Globalizing is arguably better. If we're looking at it from what motivates our employees. I mean, we can see from JB’s response and just anecdotal information everywhere, employees would prefer to at least work a blended schedule, most of them.So, I mean, the reality is it depends on what drives you. Are you losing money? Well, I would argue that you could probably get rid of some brick and mortar locations. If you're a big diversified company. It probably could save you money in the end. So, when it comes to all of that, I think that the real question is. How brave is your leadership team? How willing are you to go out on that limb and teach and learn and foster a culture that can live outside four walls? Chad: Your thoughts Ioana? Ioana: I agree completely. You probably saw from my head silently agreeing. I have nothing more to say. I'm in complete agreement. With regards to recruitment I have a vision for the future. Whether we're going back or not doesn't really matter, but as it relates to technology the future of recruiting without the recruiters working the way they do their job today. I want technology to be able to do recruitment for us in a way that I think partly does it today. But if we are able to remove that recruiter job title, I'm not saying, you know, people shouldn't have jobs, but what, what will the new recruiter do in an age of technology? And that can be between four walls or outside of them. Hanging out by the pool.Chad: How much of that job is actually just admin and minutiae that tech can take care of. And back to Jen's point, I mean, REI just built a corporate headquarters, a new corporate headquarters, and they're selling it. They understand where the future is going. And they also understand that the footprint of that HQ is a lot of money that they can get rid of. And hopefully they can go back to their shareholders and say, guess what? We're hopefully going to turn a profit out of this COVID thing. I'm going to try our damn business. So as a tech guy, Max, I know you want to press obviously your people and your customers.This is going to be more on talent acquisition. What would you say to talent acquisition today with regard to being able to do exactly what you Ioana was talking about? Taking away those admin and the minutia tasks that really are just a pain in the ass every day. They're there. They're not helping them. What can tech do to help that happen and evolve them into people who can actually do more human things? Max: Yeah. I think that going through a job ad on Craigslist or Monster, that was boring. I actually, I was looking for a job back in 2000, during the dot com crash. And I spent a couple of months on Monster looking for jobs and it was pretty tedious and boring.I mean, I ended up having like three interviews and I took the first job that I was given, basically, which is, I think pretty much what everybody goes through. If you look at some of the stuff I presented today, you see that there's room for a human touch and for recruiters to have fun and to, use the digital medium, to create meaningful connections even if it's through a simple thing, you know, a 32 second video on a job ad. That's where that's where recruitment should be going. Is hiring people who have fun creating digital experiences and people who've been trained on Tik Tok and all of those great tools to create communities, and that they can apply those skills into the recruitment space.Thankfully, I think we've got a big talent pool of people to choose from, if we're looking for Tik Tok creators. And that's going to be the next generation. All the boring stuff of course should be automated. It is the job of, maybe our generation, the people on this call. Not to put anybody in a… Chad, and my job of course, to create some automation workflow so we can take care of the boring stuff. I am constantly being pulled by practitioners, sort of saying. Can we get rid of this? And now I have to figure out how we can read documents and use this OCR in order to eliminate some of the document collection that happens on onboarding, which is still a huge part of recruitment, and something that, you know, I'm excited to work on in the future. So eventually we'll get rid of all the boring stuff. Chad: So I want to, I want to pivot to something that Pia ust posted and that's candidate experience there.So there's so much proposed candidate flow. It's there, but it's kind of wonky right now with COVID, especially in some roles where they don't want to apply because it's a safety risk. Right. But overall, does candidate experience matter? Does employer branding matter?Yes. Okay. I'm going to say yes, but still what's going on. What happened? We're going to see a bunch of employers start kicking employer brand to the curb and candidate experience to the curb. What does that mean for the industry? Do you think that'll happen, Jen? Do you think they'll kick it to the curb and if they do, what does that mean for the industry?Jenn: You know, we're sort of like the stepchildren of every HR world and every business, right? Like when hiring stops, money stops and employment branding is a function of hiring in the minds of most leaders. So, I think the funding's gonna stop, right? Like we're going to stop getting money to do those things, but that doesn't mean that we can stop doing them.In my very first slide, I think I said, I'm being along the lines of like, be true to yourself or something. Along those lines. This is an expectation. So whether or not you have more candidates or less candidates or you're paying for them, or they're coming to you organically, the reality is you still want to align your company's culture and values against their needs before they ever get to the application process.So it probably shouldn't stop. Ioana do you have a perspective on that? Ioana: I think, not only should it not stop, I think it should be enhanced. And I think in my presentation, I have touched upon that a lot, all the things that I talked about that we did to enhance our recruitment were actually targeted towards our brand.As in trust with candidates in a fully virtual environment with so many scams going on so many things that you can't really recognize. Having a very strong employer brand is absolutely critical. In my view, no one should cut that corner when they have costs. Chad: Yes. And I believe in doubling down on one of the things that I've kind of somewhat argued about is talent acquisition should be a part of marketing.There's no question because you are hitting, especially AT&T every person they touched was a prospective customer. And if they are pissing off candidates, guess who else? They were pissing off customers, people who actually spend money. Jenn: I was just going to say, we actually did a study with the talent board that hosts the candy awards on what the impact to revenue could be from improved candidate experience and what the deficit would be by not having a good one.And it's amazing. I mean, let's think about the black hole particularly right now. If you have an entry level job, you have a lot of people applying and you don't have as many recruiters to get through that. Like it is just a literal black hole.Max: Yeah. I wasn't sure my mic was on. If you look at the options for a candidate before, it was, you know, let's say you have three different options. You're going to evaluate commuting time, how beautiful the office is, if you get food or not, the benefits. You know, that kind of stuff.Now. It's like, well, you know, all the jobs are the same, I'm in my living room in front of my computer. So how would you differentiate between these jobs? Well, the main factor is going to be the quality of the people that you interact with daily. Your teammates, who you're going to work with. Defining a real culture where you're gonna work with people that you can recognize, recognize their value and what you have in common with them.That's how you're going to win the war for that. And,what an exciting time to be doing recruitment where you can actually, work with that. Like everybody's working on an equal footing. Everybody can buy a zoom license and everybody can get a lot of traffic. I mean, you know, of course you can get even more traffic if you buy it, but it's not that expensive compared to a few years ago. So it's all about the story now. I think it's the greatest opportunity.Chad: I'd like to comment on what Miguel said. Miguel says, when you're recruiting, you're not buying, you're selling.And that's exactly what marketing does. Marketing's not buying anything they're selling stuff. And you have to be in that mindset that this isn't just a candidate coming to, hopefully, work for you, right? This is a customer that's coming to you. And they're not just looking to buy a, you know, a mobile phone phone, or a service or a cup of bourbon.They're looking to actually pour their heart and their time into your brand. So I say that if something's worth more, it's actually worth more if they're coming through the career channel, than coming through the buying channel. What do you think is the most important piece right now, as we get a chance to step back as talent acquisition, to an extent, as we move forward, what is the most important piece that we need to develop as we move forward to hopefully reach our goals much faster and scale faster? Jenn: I'm going to have to give you two answers because it's like the two sides of me have to answer. So the employment branding, marketing, creative part of me, right? That part of me wants you to have very appropriately aligned expectations in a positive way, because to Miguel's point, we are always selling, right?Like, so I don't want to tell you how horrible it is to work here, but if we expect you to be on time every day, I don't want to give you the impression in my creative juices that we’re just really easy going because we're probably not. So I think aligned employment brand message, whatever that is.But secondarily and might be a little unpopular in my TA circles. I kinda got some boos on Facebook for this comment a few days ago. And that is, I think we need to recruit less people, right? Like there's so many people out there looking and our organizations have likely retracted and probably aren't as large.And so in order to make the best use of your time, you should work to try to touch fewer people at a higher quality as opposed to making the funnel larger. Right? Like the funnel has already made itself big. You've got to get really tight. And instead of talking to 20 people talk to 10 and that decreases your cost from top to bottom.So those would be my two takeaways. Chad: So I'm going to throw Ioana a curve ball. Are you ready? Ioana: By all means.Chad: Jen just brought something up that is incredibly important to me. How much money have you spent over the last three years in acquiring talent into your database? You don't have to tell me out loud. Just think about it, right. Think of that money. Now where's the first place you go to try to find qualified candidates, is it your database? Where you spent all that money? hundreds of thousands/ millions?Ioana: No. Chad: So I'm going to reframe my question that I asked Jen, as we move forward, do you believe we should actually start to get better ROI off of all that money we've been spending?And how do we do that?Ioana: Through technology. This actually goes back to what I was saying earlier about envisioning recruiter-less future in recruiting. And I want to relate back to Jen's example of the funnel. Whenever we have huge projects going on or we have to deliver like thousands of people in like three weeks, leaders come to me and they were like, we need a bigger funnel.No people, we don't need a bigger funnel. The funnel is okay, as it is, we just need to become smarter at using it and become smarter about where we spend our time and become smarter about who we select so that we don't have to keep going and going every time, attrition happens.What I said about technology, I think that's what's going to help us bridge that gap between the two funnel concepts. The second piece I would want to add is simplifying the processes. I don't know if anyone else is dealing with this, but when you're part of a big corporate world, you tend to put so many controls and so many hierarchies.And so many people have to get involved to get one small thing, and that applies for recruiting as well. Whether it is pretty onboarding or background checks that are, you know, unimaginable for people who we want to hire for call center, contact center or collections work have to go through loops and hoops to just get a decent job.Please let's fight that, let's become more practical about it. Let's decrease the funnel, become smarter, become practical. And I think that's a winning proposition. Chad: Amen Ioana. We're going to wrap it up there. Thank you so much. Ioana, Jen, you can tell max needs to get to bed. I appreciate everybody who's been watching. Thanks so much.
23 minutes | 4 months ago
How Transcom's TA team increased Hires per Recruiter by 300% over 3 years. - Jun Abo, VP of Talent Acquisition, Transcom
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platform. Max: Hello everybody. And welcome back to the recruitment hackers podcast with Max as your host, and today on the program, I'm delighted to be welcoming Jun Abo, who is vice president for talent acquisition at Transcom, based in the Philippines. Jun is someone I've worked with for a few years and I’m delighted to have you on the show. Welcome Jun. Jun: Oh, thank you, Max. Thank you for having me. And I'm excited to be finally getting this podcast started with you. Max: Yes. Yes. Well, it's a busy time of year for your industry, right? So September to November. It's a luxury to be able to get half an hour of your time, during this, what they call the ramp up period.Yeah. 2020 is supposed to be the end of the world for a lot of people in recruitment, but it seems that for your industry, at least, things are holding up pretty well. Jun: Yeah. More than pretty well, because like what you've said, usually September to December is our busy season. That's where we see a bulk of our hiring.Coming into 2020 with all of the things that are going on. We thought that it's time for us to relax and slow down, and lo and behold, the demand has been greater than what we've seen in the past. So it's a busy time for us even busier than last year. Max: 2020 is bigger than 2019. Jun: Yeah. Max: Your whole year?Jun: Oh yeah. Max: That's amazing. There are few, I mean, I've heard this from other players as well in the space. So first, to do customer care it's harder to hire in the US, and so some of the workers are going abroad, but you were giving me another perspective and we were speaking earlier saying that from your end, the supply is bigger. There's a bigger supply of talent than before, which got unlocked because of this year's events. Tell us a little bit about that. Jun: Yeah. So traditionally, we would normally tap from three types of profiles. The starters, the shifters and the adapters. Starters are the ones that are fresh out of school. The adapters are those coming from different types of industries. And then of course you have the shifters who are coming from other BPO’s, moving or shifting from one BPO to another. What we've seen this year is that because of the virus, it impacted a lot of the industries. We are tapping more and more adapters and more and more starters.We've actually partnered with local governments, in order to provide career fairs and employment to returning overseas Filipino workers. So you're probably aware that the Filipinos are one of the most robust when it comes to working outside of the Philippines. You find Filipinos almost anywhere in other parts of the globe. With the virus going on, a lot of those overseas Filipino workers are going back to the Philippines, and we're the ones now partnering with the government venture so that the work is offered to them. So it's a sort of a reverse brain drain. The ones who left before are now coming back.Max: Yeah. I guess that for you. You know, back in 2019, you were investing a lot in the employee experience and you built that beautiful Transcom cafe, and a nice welcoming experience for employees, and this has, well I mean, the expertise of building a good experience remains true and applicable, whether you're doing it from a virtual work or an actual physical work office. And giving you an edge, you know, an employer that gives a career option for people who want to stay at home, an edge compared to traditional businesses that may be a little bit more, stuck in the old ways.Jun: Oh, yeah. The candidate experience for us is always going to be key, especially in this market. When we were first designing our virtual recruitment process, we thought that technology can be the silver bullet that fixes everything. So we bought, we partnered with a company that provided us a chatbot, but it was vanilla flavored in terms of responses. It was very robotic. It didn't provide the customization that we need, that would make us unique. So when we looked at the candidate experience, we had a lot of detractors coming out of that recruitment funnel. So we ask ourselves, the first question that we often ask ourselves when we're looking at the recruitment technology is, what would it feel if we're the ones ourselves going through this, and thinking, and using this technology? If we were candidates, what's the candidate experience going to be like? If we're not happy with that own experience, leveraging that technology, then we're not going to be using it.Max: Yeah. Yeah. It is one of the most painful exercises that anybody has to go through, which is applying for a job at your own company. And it's so painful. Nobody wants to do it. And so we keep postponing, and postponing, and I think that's universally true. I started using it as a sales technique by asking our sales team to apply for a job at every company. And then record the experience and send it to the TA director for them to check out, you know, see how long it takes to apply it to your company. But I guess in an organization, your size, you have to do those internal audits on a regular basis?Jun: Yeah. I think one of the good things that we put in place as well, it's we have a candidate NPS, a tracking mechanism, embedded in our recruitment process. This is a way for us to measure how many promoters and detractors and passive candidates we have, based on their experience going through one of the recruitment processes.Max: All right. I've always found the ultimate metric of course, is whether they're going to stick around, or whether they're going to take the job and stick around. It's hard to get a clean read on candidates because they all want the job. So they usually say nice things, even if the experience is subpar. So we always get like super positive data, but I take it with a grain of salt.Jun: I it's true because if you look at BPO’s, especially in the past couple of years, the biggest driver of attrition, you can see it during the first 30, 60, and 90 days. Where on average, you'll see around 40 - 45% of hires attrition during the first 90 days. That's why usually in recruitment, particularly for us, early life attrition is part of our KPI.Max: How is that evolving in 2020? I would imagine the attrition is dropping because of the recession. But I would also imagine that perhaps, because you're dealing with a much broader talent pool and a lot of, as you call them starters, people who are new to the industry, they may not have the same preparation. They're not battle-tested so maybe more likely to drop out and realize “this isn't for me”. Jun: Yeah. And that's exactly that, it's a mixed bag. So far it's still trending towards a good direction. Since we've started our digital journey. We've seen year over year 30, 60, and 90 days retention, improving. This year we saw an artificial improvement just because when we went on lockdown March, all the way up, you didn't see a lot of folks moving from one organization to the other. They'd rather stay put because of course job security. But when we started hiring, that's when we're seeing up to your point, the one fresh out of school without any call center experience, that's when they try it out. And then they need to find out for themselves, “well this is not for me”. Again, call center work, BPO work is not easy, especially during times like this when you deal with customers who are frustrated or angry or stressed. And at the same time, your normal support group is all virtual. You don't have your team leader deciding to support. You don't have your teammates to support you. They're all virtual. So it takes a different kind of employee to succeed in this type of environment nowadays. Max: I'm wondering, I was going to ask you about automation and all that kind of jazz, but, now that you brought up frustrated customers, and since we're just a few weeks away from the first debate between Trump and Biden and a couple of months away from the election. I'm wondering whether your team has had to adapt to this unique political dynamic coming from the U.S, and notably whether from the customers to consumers... to talk to American operations only, because it's always a theme in this industry but, is that theme kind of dying down where people have accepted the fact that, you know, we're dealing with international businesses, or is it still something that you spent a lot of time training people on?Jun: We haven't seen a lot of a backlash from outsourcing, like we did a couple of years ago. But we're still mindful in terms of — part of the training is culture training. We want to make sure that our employees are aware and can speak the weather, so to speak, and talk shop with the customers. But we haven't seen similar negative comments said about work being done from outside of the US, yeah. If we did it was like a couple of years ago, I think. Max: Yeah. Back to the question about the work at home trend. Yeah. You were saying you've got an expanded talent pool to choose from. So does that mean you can be a little bit more selective on the type of people that you bring in and how is the prescreening and the selection process been affected by this broadening of the talent pool? Jun: Originally, we thought that it's going to open up a larger talent pool for us, but it is also pretty restricted. So there's a couple of things. We have what you call, two challenges. The first one would be availability of bandwidth at home, and then of course a PC. There's a massive shortage of PCs all over the world where it’s taking 90 days to supply those PC’s as a workaround for us where we're trying to experiment on bringing your own device. So if you want to work at home, you have your own PC that meets the minimum requirements. And you have the minimum bandwidth, then you can apply for a work at room set up. But again the challenge is the PC. The minimum bandwidth requirement originally was 4 core wifi. Now we've downgraded it because not everyone has the ability to buy that kind of a spec of a PC. Then of course, the bandwidth. If you've been to the Philippines, the challenge with the bandwidth, especially the ones in the province. Bandwidth access is not as common as say the big cities like Metro Manila Max: And in your industry, there's always a continuity plan. So if the internet goes down somewhere, you have to be able to pick up the business elsewhere.Jun: Right. Max: So I guess at some point, I know you're on the talent acquisition, so maybe you don't know about this stuff, but I imagine that. You have to kind of, does the internet go down for the whole country at a time? or region by region?, city by city? and how do you manage the workload? Jun: So it really depends on which particular provider goes down. So there's multiple ISP providers. And if one ISP goes down, we would normally have backup with another ISP provider. The challenge is if it's a cable cut. So that means. the common cable where in all of the ISP would pasture or would get cut somewhere in the middle of the ocean, then you're screwed.Max: Okay. So that's when you need to have an international operation because you're going to the other place. Okay. Yeah. Great. Well, maybe I'm taking a little bit of a step back from the day to day and reflecting on the evolution of the sector and for our listeners who are recruiters. Now taking a moment to think about, what are the skills required today that were not required 10 years ago. How has the profession specifically around high volume recruitment evolved for you in the last 10 years? What are the skills that you've had to hire for internally for your own team?Jun: For my own team, actually, one of the things that we're looking for in recruiters, it's their ability to manage digitally candidates. Their ability to also work independently, because recruiters nowadays we've gone away from big and massive recruitment hubs. All of our recruiters are working from home. In fact, our recruitment hubs in all of our sites have been converted to different functional areas used by the site. It's actually used for teleconsults. So all of our employees coming in, they go through what used to be our recruitment hub, where they get teleconsultation with nurses and doctors, just to get checked. That's when they get screened before they're allowed up into the production floor. Now our recruiters are working from home. What we're looking for is their ability to work independently, the ability to manage candidates virtually, and again, manage their own time. Max: That sounds fine, except that you're not going to be able to get, you know, I'm sort of a young university grads to have that autonomy, that independence, that experience that's required to work without close supervision. We might run into some problems a few years down the line. If we don't have these recruitment centers, which is an opportunity for the young recruiters to pick up the skills and learn from the elders. I've seen some initiatives from the sales side where they use software in order to record every call in order to facilitate that, and then do more calibration between people. I guess in 2020, you know, we have the luxury of hiring more experienced recruiters, but in the future. That'll be a problem potentially. Jun: Yeah, no, I agree. Yeah. And I think it's an area of opportunity. One of the things that we're working with our own learning and development team. We recently rolled out Transcom university. So it's a learning management platform. We tried creating micro learning courses, targeted for recruiters. So they can upskill themselves, given what are the things that they need to learn, and what are the things that they need to do better. And it's all available through their mobile phones. Max: Transcom university. Everybody's got one of those one these days, we're launching Talkpush Academy. We hope some of your recruiters will take our new training course, which is being released this month actually. Jun: Oh, looking forward to it!Max: I mean, autonomy is always good to have. What do you think, who are the recruiters that are going to be able to perform well 5 or 10 years from now? What are the skill sets? How is the profession going to evolve further? Jun: I think the way I see it, it's a combination of AI, which is augmented intelligence for recruiters. The more we incorporate social media. The public persona of candidates, and the ability of AI to filter that available information. That's what will allow the recruiters to have basically tons of information available to them. Even before they start the interview. And then from there, the competencies that you're looking for, you interview or you touch base on those competencies that you're looking for. It's amazing how much we often forget that there's a lot of information we put out there on our social media. Right now there's not a lot of companies that are using social media information for recruiting as a basis for selection. But I think that's going to be a trend a couple of years from now.Max: Oh, we know about Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn. Are you looking for people's profiles elsewhere? Are you going to their TikTok pages? Jun: As long as TikTok is no longer banned in the US.Max: Oh, I thought they had a local TikTok, a Chinese TikTok. Yeah. Okay. So it sounds like you need more recruiters who are comfortable with data, and well, are you hiring at the moment? Should we be making a service announcement for Transcom?Jun: No, not yet. We're good. But just adding to that, it's recruiters who are comfortable working with data, recruiters who are also marketers, because what we realize is that recruitment as a role, as a career has shifted. Before it was mostly an administrative task in nature, but now it's really more of selling marketing and branding from a recruitment standpoint. So that skillset in marketing, whether virtually, digitally or the traditional way of marketing, that's also going to be a key competency that we're going to be looking for in recruiters.Max: Yeah, on one hand, it's costing less money to gather leads than before. Yeah. But it does require more expertise in a way, cause it used to be, you just bought a few ads on a job board and that was the extent of the advertising and marketing expertise that was required. Now, are you training your team on the aspects, like how to buy ads on Facebook and things like that? Is that part of the onboarding? Jun: Yeah. So one of the things that we put in place within recruitment, is we have our own digital marketing team. So we have a team that manages all the ad buying on Facebook, social media and on Google. We have our own branding team that creates all of those contents and videos that's really meant for talent acquisition, and they partner with our own communications and employee branding team. Max: Yeah. That's like a digital agency within Transcom.Jun: That is exactly it.Max: That sounds expensive, that sounds incredibly expensive. How did you get them to agree to that investment? Jun: Well, look at it. When I first joined Transcom 2015, we were doing the traditional way of recruiting. I had around 119 recruiters. In Manila, in Bacolod , and Iloilo. I was recruiting on average, probably around 500 - 600 per month. Fast forwarding to now, my total head count is around 52. So I've reduced my headcount significantly. Focus on specialized skill sets. And then expanded our sourcing capability because it's all about sourcing, right? The more candidates, the more quality candidates that you can bring in at the top of the funnel, the more candidates that you're able to then onboard. So I initially presented them my business case. And it's a good thing that our regional CEO, Michael Ansell is a big believer of digital transformation. He saw the need for us to pivot from the traditional way of recruiting, to the more digital and advanced way of recruiting. So he fully supported it. And in a span of three years, we started moving in hiring based on the desired skill set. So when the virus hit and the lockdown affected the Philippines in March, we were one of the few companies that was really already a hundred percent digitally ready to be recruiting.Max: You said you were a few years back at 500 hires a month. Is that number roughly the same? So you're able to do the same volume with half the team? Jun: No it increased. Now I'm doing around 650 to 700 on average. Max: Okay. So we're talking about like a 30% increase in output with more than 50% reduction in headcount. So yeah. Sounds like your CEO should be happy with that. And that does justify some investments into the digital factory we talked about. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing those numbers with our audience, and sharing your story. Where can people get a hold of you? I believe you've got a very cool nickname.Jun: No, so you can reach me at LinkedIn. Look for Jun Abo. I am Transcom’s Fairy Job Father. So LinkedIn with me and I'd be more than happy to interact with you there. Max: Awesome. Thank you Jun. And thank you for your time. I wish you a strong end of 2020, and talk to you soon. Jun: Thank you, Max. Thank you for the partnership. Max: That was Jun from Transcom sharing some trade secrets on how he has turned his talent acquisition team into experts in social media and sourcing. Hope you enjoyed it. If you'd like to see more content like this, and you'd like interviews from the high volume recruitment space, please subscribe now and share with your friends. Until next time.
29 minutes | 4 months ago
The RPO Industry's Pivot to Remote Work Gives TA Outsourcing an Edge for 2021 - Sally Hunter Executive Vice President at Cielo
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush, the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: Hello and welcome to the recruitment hackers podcast today. I'm honored to have on our show, the Executive Vice President at Cielo Sally Hunter. Welcome to the show, Sally. Sally: Thank you. Pleasure to be here.Max: Sally, what does an Executive Vice President do? Or rather what do you do at Cielo? You've explained to me you're managing your customers.Sally: So I'm responsible for all of our clients and client delivery across the near region and also some of our global customers. So that is operational delivery and performance, but also how we manage those contracts, continuous improvement, innovation, and really drive the thinking with the customers that we partner with.Max: Okay. And, Cielo I think anybody in the recruitment industry should know, what you do, but perhaps shed some light on what's happened to this company? I believe they've had a change of ownership recently. Sally: Sure, no problem. We're the leading pure play RPO business globally. And you’re right with private equity banks, and secured a new banker, at the start of 2019.So we are now backed by Primera, and that is a good match to our global footprint. So over the course of both organic and inorganic growth, we're now in every continent and supporting clients across all of those geographies and that's with hub locations in places like Manila, Singapore, Dubai, London, Budapest, Buenos Aires…So it's really about us being able to be where our customers need us to be, but also being able to leverage a tech infrastructure and a platform that gives us world flex and scale across those hubs, because inevitably we still have a lot of team members that are high proximity to apply it.So they are in the wrong site or near site and providing that support as well as what comes from the sensor. Max: Right. Well, right now you don't know where they are. They’re in front of their computer somewhere. And you're hoping it's close to their customer and maybe they all move to Costa Rica or something.Sally: Yeah. And it's a great point. You know, we flipped to homeworking pretty much overnight. And that's been a really interesting dynamic for all of us that we've been driving those virtual conversations, for years. So often customers really want to see recruiters, but actually it doesn't add value to what they're delivering and they're not necessarily spending time with stakeholders in a way that an onsite role should be. So what's really interesting coming through COVID is that actually accelerates those conversations to make sure that people are where we can access the best talent, not necessarily high proximity to the customer from a present team perspective.Shame on us If we don't take advantage of that and shift the model. Max: That's absolutely how I feel that on one hand, the governments and the travel regulators made it difficult for people to travel. And as a response, borders are kind of melting. As a response we can hire everywhere in the world and now it doesn't seem like that's such a stretch of the imagination. I service a lot of the call center and the BPO industry at Talkpush and I think we're seeing a lot of activity that may not even have happened, in a different context, even though the economy is suffering, there's a lot of work being sent offshore.Are you seeing similar shifts in the labor and demand of global markets as a response to this 2020 crisis? Sally: Yes we are. And it's been really interesting to observe and partner with our customers through this. So we work with Amazon web services, a great example.So Amazon web services pivoted to virtual almost immediately and obviously had a huge growth in demand because we're all relying on that digital infrastructure. Max: 10% Sally: Exactly. What’s interesting is that a lot of the talent is coming from cross border. So, what we have to solve for, with them is how we find these really capable individuals, but potentially we can't relocate them yet.That, and to your point earlier that may not even be necessary. To relocate them. So can we just function with an entirely virtual team wherever that talent happens to be? So that's been really interesting to see that. So actually, when you think about the way a recruiter’s life has changed, that candidate control and and relationship management is so important because these individuals are going to take a long time to be able to ultimately relocate and also to make the decision to change jobs.Because what we're seeing in candidate sentiment is that often during these times, people have reluctance to leave a current role because they feel there's an uncertainty in the world. So you know that we're managing through that, but it hasn't changed the fact that the demand for talent is extremely high.And I think all of our customers have acknowledged in many cases, pivoted for good. That they are going to have a much higher proportion of home and virtual working and even needs to be in the same country. Max: And a bigger talent pool to choose from if they're not limited by searching close to the office.I also agree that like right now, we're in early September, those who still have a job are probably holding onto it quite dearly. And so, there's not as much movement, for us, you know, we target HR executives. They’re our buyers and people are just, nobody's moving, everybody's keeping their job.It's hard to like start new conversations in a way, you feeling that too? On the sales side?Sally: It's been really interesting. So we had a very quiet period for about the first three months. What we are now seeing, I think you made, this point earlier is that there are so many reasons to start talking to outsourcing partners about how you build back. So, those conversations and those sales opportunities are really starting to bubble up now. I think what is fascinating is are there organizations that are reluctant but interested? But may not ultimately make a decision to outsource versus those that really have a compelling set of reasons and also emotionally can get comfortable with the idea of outsourcing? So it's definitely picking up, which has been really exciting for us, but it's also trying to navigate, what is a real business commitment and strategic drive to work with a partner versus a situation where I think we'll see a lot of hybrid blended solutions.So what we're finding is some organizations that intuitively want in house are embracing outsourcing for some parts of the process or some role types, just to try and kind of understand how they're going to build out and leverage this kind of a solution. Max: When you've been in the industry long enough, starting with Kelly services before and then working on helping a contingent and permanent hiring at Aviva to have seen at least one previous crisis, maybe two…Do you think that the RPO industry is going to have a very strong 2021 similar to, I guess 2009 - 2010 was your year of expansion for the industry? I think following some of the dynamics that you outlined where people are getting more comfortable with outsourcing. Sally: I do. I think what's interesting and to be really transparent is I think we’ll see significant growth. The important thing is how we translate that into being profitable and sustainable. So a lot of new business coming in will demand significant amounts of investment. And so what we've been preparing for is making sure that we're financially in a great position to take on that new business, but it does take time to go from implementing and building, to more business as usual with these types of programs, particularly if technology is going to play a big part in that. I think what's exciting about what we're seeing coming out of the pandemic is that organizations need to be more agile in how they implement and leverage technology. So often we're presenting a platform, but actually our customers are struggling to implement and integrate and scale into that technology solution quickly. And it'd be really interesting to see if that can speed up because that will make a huge difference on the overall performance.So I think it will be a very exciting year. We've got to be really smart and savvy about who we partner with, and scaling that at speed. I think you mentioned, you know, having been in this industry like 17 years plus, one of the things I think people expect is mass applications. So that came out of the last challenge from an economic perspective, there was a huge volume of interested applications and how do you manage that? And as an industry, we've pivoted to lack of talent, not having this huge funnel coming in. I don't anticipate it being quite the scale that we've seen before. But I think that's because we are more sophisticated at managing that and managing our messaging to interested candidates. Because I think what's sad for all of us is to see a high volume of applications that then results in an email telling you you’ve not been successful. You know, we'd rather that people were applying for jobs that were really relevant and that they felt really connected to. Max: Yeah. You were talking about how difficult it is to get quick results when you propose a new technology. So a customer, a typical RPO contract is that two or three years long?Sally: Yeah, we typically — it's five in total and then often there's like a three plus two, three plus one. So, particularly, when we talk about that high volume space and the scale of what we're delivering, some of these customers to do anything less, often is not viable and it makes sense to make that kind of commitment. Max: Yeah. So, I'm curious, the tech stack. It sounds like you've made some bold bets on technology. What are some of the things that are working well for you this year that have picked up technologies that are helping or getting good looks from customers in 2020?Sally: I think you're right we have, and as an organization we're very committed to tech enabled, but also acknowledging that we're not a tech business. So we need to make sure we've got partnerships with best in class solutions. And I think it's a blend of, there's amazing stuff out there, but to what degree can it be operationalized and deployable in a timeframe that really works.And also, what do we leverage as Cielo for all of our customers as a platform. And also what we have as point solutions for them. For us, a big part of the run up to what we've seen this year is things like: self scheduling and candidate control of the process. So, just the basics of allowing your candidates to schedule time, to have a conversation that suits them. You know, it's a really simple thing, but the back and forth is time consuming, frustrating.And coming through, moving to such a virtual set up. That is a given that every seniority candidate is tending to prefer to own their time and to schedule their time in a really easy way. And from a mobile, not from a desktop. The other piece of that is obviously virtual events and virtual assessment centers has been so critical.So pivoting to being able to deliver group assessments collectively and virtually, and engaging people in those kinds of communities, has been a big part of what we've been delivering this year.Max: The virtual career fairs are also a trend that's really picking up. For more like graduates, university hiring, maybe that's not something, that you're more focused on more senior hires, perhaps.Sally: it's a blend actually. So the early talent space is really critical because what a lot of organizations did In the last recession was they removed all those programs and then they didn't have a pipeline for high potential and their next level talent. So, it's a big part of what we deliver to our customers is making sure that we understand the full life cycle and how we work with that type of hiring. And what's interesting is that some of our customers are pivoting to doing, an early talent program that is still internal mobility.So then looking at drawing individuals from parts of their businesses that perhaps quieter rule or struggling during this time, and actually pulling them into other parts of their business as part of an early talent program. So, and you're right, that was a big part of the tech solution that we built ahead of, kind of, our next generation was being able to run these virtual events and do that really successfully and potentially across multiple countries as well.Max: Do you spend a lot of time, you said you used the expression best of breed solution earlier, or point solution. As a tech entrepreneur, I always have to decide whether to buy or build and I suppose our customers are asking the same questions. Should we buy our build and, you know, generally best practice is to buy and buy best of breed and then glue it up together.And that might end up with you having a number of system integration engineers on your payroll. Is that how Cielo works? Sally: Yeah, absolutely. And I think we've acknowledged that, we need to ensure that we're leveraging everything that's out there and acknowledging that the way that we're efficient is making sure that we can deliver those integrations and have one source of truth.What's been really interesting when we work with customers who’ve built and customized it is so challenging to be efficient and effective. And it's really tough for them to outsource because what it then asks of us is a mass amount of administration and duplicated effort. Max: They’re not the best engineers, actually the ones who’ve built stuff in house. So it's a slower working process.Sally: Yeah, exactly. What’s really interesting for all of us is that we've moved talent acquisition and resourcing to the C suite. We've made it core we've shown the value that it brings. And outsourcing was born out of your non-core repeatable tasks, so, and what we've now moved the industry on to is thinking about how to do it well. And actually whether you outsource or you do it in house, you have responsibility to do it well and effectively, Max: What's the most basic sort of easiest thing to outsource if you're outsourcing phobic and you want to start to, you know, reduce the amount of internal costs to your talent acquisition team?Sally: That's a really interesting point. So, actually to do something at speed and to feel comfortable that you've got accountability, it's better to take something end to end, and ask an outsource to work on it.If you start to pull pieces out of your process, one, it tends to... You'd need to have a great process to then have something that you hand off and then you hand back. So in order that you don't need to redesign the entire ecosystem, what we tend to suggest is that you look at an area or a segment and you ask an outsource partner to own that end to end, because then you can hold us accountable because there's not too much co-owned and you don't necessarily have to completely redesign the process. Max: I can see why you say that, Sally, because if they're so good at breaking down the tasks, down to the single you need a deliverable then no, there's no way you're going to get any margin on that deal. Right. It's just not that attractive because they know how to run their stuff.They can run it so good they don't need you.Sally: Yeah, absolutely. And I think a big factor as far as tendencies, and that's what everybody's learning is that, you know, we've had a lot of conversations with our existing customers that we were working with before COVID. And, you know, they have been able to take cost out by simply having this model.So it is just, you know, outsourcing is designed to be unvariable costs. And so I think it's where you've got that volatility outsourcing can really help you handle that. And actually not have to go through very painful redundancy, restructuring, or frankly just have a standing thing that is not fully utilized. Max: Yeah. You know, and selfish thing I want to ask you, are your customers asking you for chatbots? and I'm wearing my chatbot tee shirt, so...Sally: Oh no, it's an interesting question. So our customers ask us for innovation. They want to understand what is going to really differentiate them in the marketplace. So I don't think they're specifically asking us for chatbots. What they are asking for is agility and scale, and being able to understand where automation makes sense, where it enhances the experience and where potentially it could be detrimental to the experience from a candidate’s perspective. So I think they're driving us for that thinking.Max: That detrimental idea is one of my favorite topics.What's an automation initiative that fell flat on its face? That was unable to deliver its promise. If you can go back, you don't have to name people or clients or situations just, does that ring a bell? Were you able to bury those memories? Sally: I think this is a partial part of the process that we learned to do differently.So, we have a number of high volume hiring solutions that are very much tech enabled. And what we tended to find is that if we completely round the process end to end without human interaction, we had a challenge at the backend with no shows. Actually, when you start to really dig in, there are typically very high volume solutions, you will have no shows. That is not possible to eliminate. What we established with the one call or contact that was personalized between the arrangements being made and the attendance actually made a huge difference to the number of people that did the no show. I think actually it was a huge success from a tech perspective, but we need to keep evolving.Max: You went too far in one direction..Yeah. You have to find, well, I mean, we've seen that over and over again. And it was when we launched our technology in this area, the first response from people was like, sorry, it doesn't work. Because we went from all humans to all automation and the humans outperformed the automation.And we said, well, yeah, we never told you to get rid of everybody. Now it's very much a big part of who we are is this training the users and what we call augmenting the recruiter. And one number that we're trying to drive is the number of hires per recruiter, which I guess is the ultimate productivity metric for an RPO as well.Sally: It's hugely important. And also what we, each time we're looking at what impact it has on the experience. So you've got to work out how many hires they do, but also how many of them stay? Let's understand what the attrition is. Let’s understand all of the implications of what we do.But that's a big metric for us. And there's a level where actually there’s limited benefits to going even further. So it's a bit like time to hire actually, how fast. If you get so fast, do you have to not plan? And planning and forecasting demand and workforce planning is so important for businesses to be successful and so the more that we solve things in distress and with quick fixes, the less planning is needed. And actually that I think is always, it's a balance that we have to, I think whether you're providing a tech solution or outsourcing, that's something we've got to really consider. Max: The two and then opposition, you know, planning and response time. I'd like to think that we could probably pull off both. But there are an endless number of ways of measuring even something simple, like time to hire. I can not get straight answers with people because it's time to fill from point of application to the point of hire, is it the day they came into the office or when they signed the contract, et cetera.So it's just a lot of definition that needs to happen up front. And then for the cost per leads, you know, we have to also decline it into 10 different numbers. So we're going to do a webinar just to talk about all that soon for our listeners. And it is as boring as it sounds — heads up.Sally: But it is like the Nirvana of the industry, you know, if we can get to the implications of an extra seat, and to your point, it's different for every client, you know, but actually the philosophy and the science behind that is going to transform the way we build business cases and what we choose to invest in.And I think it talks to the business average as well because, to really be successful as a TA function you've got to be able to translate the risk and the demand into language that the business is comfortable with. So I get it, it's a bit dry sometimes, but I think it's hugely important for us.Max: Yeah. It's all about the numbers. It's a numbers game, but it used to be a people's game. It used to be, you meet at the pub, you have a beer with your customer and you negotiate the contract renewal, and that's how you did business. With that option removed from your workforce for the last few months how's the morale holding up and can you give us some practical tips on how to keep people connected while they're talking to a webcam? Sally: That's an interesting point. And I think for sure that's been a challenge for us, I think in terms of our relationships with our customers, as well as our employees connecting, what we were doing ahead of this was adopting more of a daily huddle approach.Like a stand up huddle, and that's been really helpful coming through this to actually just do 15 minutes at the start of the day with your core team members and sometimes we talk business and we work through all the priorities for the day. Other times we just take a moment to check-in, you know, and let's hope if I ask you if you're okay and how you're feeling, I want to hear the answer. And that didn't always happen before. So I think something we should take is that we continue to do those check ins and really listen to how people are getting on and acknowledge that they might need to talk about it being tough at home or homeschooling or all of the stuff that we've had to deal with and, you know, making the time to do that's been really important.And we use Yammer to connect and just talk about what we’re facing and the stories that we're hearing and what we're seeing from our customers.So all of those platforms have had significantly more engagement during this time. Max: So Yammer is your platform of choice. And then you, of course you latched onto the platforms of your customers, your clients. Sally: Yeah, absolutely. So, think about our employees, particularly those dedicated to a customer they're operating both in our systems, but also in the customer’s.So it's on both sides that we're kind of curating information to try and help people through this and that. And then some of the new ways of working. Max: Yeah. It must be quite actually it's sounds like, you know, for these jobs that are dedicated to our customer, the new normal is probably quite an easy transition in a way, because you know, they're not so dependent on, having that, you know, the company is more of a concept rather than a building kind of thing.Sally: Yeah. And I think it's, you know, I've seen with a lot of our customers that they've taken a long time to embrace video, to really get comfortable with it. Often they're designed to connect to me in person. And in many cases I would support that I would be doing quarterly business reviews, not in person.That's really tough. But when you think about the way in which we connect day to day with recruiters and hiring managers, et cetera, being able to do that virtually, it just makes. You have imminently more time to be able to really do what's important and what we're there to do. And so that has been a big shift and a really positive shift.Because your team is any worse, it's not because you haven't seen them in the office this week. You don't feel like they're doing work for you. Max: Yeah. Happy times, I guess. One tip that I read from, uh, from somebody who does sales and trying to build trust with our customers is they're organizing cooking sessions, live cooking sessions, over zoom, with a chef giving a personal cooking class to their customers, an opportunity to network while being at home, doing something fun. Maybe something for the holiday seasons, but people are back in the office in London?Sally: So we are not back in the office yet. So globally we haven't returned to office.What we are doing is building out a rotational process. So actually at the moment it looks like Hungary will probably be the first location that goes back. And we'll start to do that on rotation A and B teams in terms of being able to get people into the office securely and safely.Max: Where did you put yourself on that list? Sally: So I've been going into the office in London probably once a week for about the last month. Just because, you know, I wasn't a high worker before this, so it's been important to just stay kind of connected and spend some time away from home. Max: Well, I know how you feel.Yeah, it's good to be back. When it happens I like keeping a foot in both, but, thank you for putting one foot inside of our podcast and spending a little bit of time with us sharing your story and the story of Cielo going through this crisis. And I do agree, you know, very exciting times for the RPO world.So thanks to Sally and wishing you a very strong end of the year. Sally: Great. And you too, I've really enjoyed it.Max: That was Sally Hunter from Cielo sounding very optimistic about what the end of 2020 and 2021 has in store for the RPO industry. I hope you enjoyed the show. If you want to hear more, please subscribe and share with your Talent Acquisition friends. Thank you.
30 minutes | 5 months ago
Remote work isn’t a solution for small businesses - Lisa Shephard, TA Transformation Consultant
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: Hello, everybody. Welcome back to Recruitment Hackers. This is Max and today I would like to welcome Lisa on the show. Lisa Shepherd. Lisa: Hi everyone. Max: Hi Lisa. So Lisa is someone I had the pleasure of meeting when interacting with Sitel and has a long experience in high volume recruitment in the BPO sector and financial services. And is now a consultant as well. Can you tell us a little bit about how you ended up in the high volume recruiting space? Lisa: It's pretty interesting. My career didn't start in high volume. It obviously started as most people did, on the agency side and then moved into in-house. But over the years I kind of found myself more in professional services, IT, outsourcing, then financial services outsourcing, and then most recently with Sitel. So it kind of, I think once you start in one path it kind of leads to other opportunities. So, you know, when I moved to Miami, I wasn't expecting to be approached by such a global organization, because in Miami, you assume it's more regional headquarters.When I got approached by Sitel for the role, I was like, wow. Okay. 80,000 people across the globe, hiring between, you know, 16, 17,000 people a year. So yeah, it was such a great opportunity that I jumped at it. Max: I love volume. You can make a small difference in so many people's lives. I also started out doing a lot of IT recruitment myself, and I thought the job was tense, which is why I'm happy to work on automation and technology now. But, Miami being international, I'm not that surprised. We have a few, BPO companies that are operating out of Florida. Like iQor and Sitel and others.How long have you been in Florida now? Lisa: Oh my gosh, almost three and a half years. And actually originally I was wanting to move to New York. Florida wasn't really somewhere that kind of was on my radar, but the company I was working for at time TMF, had a regional headquarters here. And when I thought about it, I thought, why would I move from London to New York to have the same weather? and expense? When I could move to the sunshine state and be close to them, the beach, my dad actually lives close. So it was kind of a no brainer. Max: Perfect. Yeah. I think it sounds like if people want to go and retire there, that means that they should just start working there. And, that's the world that we're moving into now where people are finding a work life balance through relocation and moving closer to their dream spots and still keeping an occupation. So, today, you're doing consulting work. Can you tell us a little bit about that? is it technology related?Lisa: It's interesting, actually. So, you know, this kind of happened due to COVID. So there's always a silver lining to everything. I set up my LLC very quickly and I got approached by a contact of mine and what's happened is over the last few months, I've ended up with two clients who are private equity backed.And both of them are at, you know, early stages of either a carve out or an acquisition. And so we're in a situation whereby they're smaller businesses. So it's not a high volume, they're smaller businesses, but they're, you know, either it's a carve out with no back office support. So no TA function, whatsoever or it's a merger, people have left.You've got to organize it, trying to merge during a pandemic. And people leave. And then suddenly again, you don't have a system that's being used across the board. You don't have a team. You've got local HR doing all the recruitment. You've got high spend, you know. Both of them have very similar situations in that they just need someone to come in and put in a process, put in a strategy, look at the team and put in systems.So, yeah, it's pretty, interesting. Lots of ambiguity and very stressful in a sense, not for me, but for them. And that they're trying to do all of this whilst not being in an office. Really difficult. Very difficult.Max: Yeah. You have to switch on that camera and smile at the camera a lot.Lisa: You do, and you have to get your hair done in the morning and get on that camera. So, you know, it's been very interesting, I think either way it's difficult at the early stages of an acquisition or a carve out. You know, especially people that have come from a smaller business and now suddenly they're part of a larger business or they're part of a larger business and now they're part of a smaller business as well. There's so much change and it doesn't suit everyone and trying to get everyone to come on that journey with you is very hard when you can't be face to face with them. When it comes to setting up a TA function and systems is the same thing, trying to get the hiring managers to align with the strategy.It's just difficult. It's just different ways of communicating and trying to sell the story to candidates as well. Again, different ways of communicating. So you just have to be, you know, think out of the box. Yeah.Max: That's the part that I'm most interested in talking to you about, this talking to candidates and how it differs from one team's to another’s mindset. And let's centralize, you know, best practices and then roll them out and sort you know, a one size fits all approach that is going to alienate local teams and local brands, and misses the opportunity to create meaningful connections at the front of the funnel for companies that know their local markets, and they know their sort of, one size fits all approach.Have you been on both sides of these battles Lisa: It's funny, I've been in both. I've been in a situation where they were very localized and centralized. So the idea was that we have a global process, but not to lose the local nuances. And then again, a different situation whereby it was extremely localized, but somehow they wanted to have a global process, but still keep it very localized. And quite frankly from what I've seen, you need to meet somewhere in the middle. If you're a global organization, you need to have one voice. If you're trying to create a culture, and have, you know, competencies and values that align, there's got to be one approach, but with those local nuances. So how you attract candidates in different markets hugely varies, right? And how you talk to them and the messaging that goes out, but it needs to still be an aligned message. And I've seen it where it hasn't been. So you create silos within a business and you're not creating a culture per se. And no one feels part of an organization.Max: let's get down to specifics then, like when you're saying, when do you cross the line? If I'm allowed to speak in a different language, through a different channel, advertising on different boards and with a different step by step process, you know, there's five interviews in one part of the business and there's only two in another part. If all of that is fair game, which I believe it is, then what isn't?Lisa: You need to have at least you’re saying the same thing, right? So who are we as an organization? What is the stress sheet? What's important to us as a business? And you know, what are the type of people that we want to attract into our business that align with our values?If you're talking to the same language, so to speak, but not the same language, but saying the same thing to every single candidate and assessing candidates against those premises, then I think it's fine, right? You have to have some consistency because you have to have a fair process. So, you know, if you're doing five interviews for one candidate and two for another, then obviously that's not right.But if it's totally different jobs then that’s fine. My view is as long as everyone's kind of saying the same thing about the business and passionate about it, you know, if you have a central HR function, then as long as you provide those guidelines to local HR, to local TA teams, as long as everyone buys into what that is.Then I think then off you go. Right? As long as the results, as long as you're hitting your numbers, as long as you know, the tenure of those people that you're attracting is good and you don't have crazy attrition, then you're doing something right. Max: Yeah, I think it sounds pretty easy when you say it, actually, it sounds like, okay. I mean it’s just a set of guidelines and values and then off you go. On the technology side, it's not so easy because most of the tech stack is focused on the North American market, maybe Europe. And does not really do that well with other markets on the sourcing side.But maybe this crisis is an opportunity to centralize more than ever. I mean now, if we can hire from anywhere, as long as you got an internet connection, then maybe there should be one size fits all. You know.Lisa: I still don't think that would work.I still think, you know, especially if you're looking in Asia, for example, how you manage the process in India versus Singapore is going to be very different. And so as much as you know, yes, maybe this is the opportunity to get one system, for sure, but if that system allows you to have local nuances then amazing.Which I think is not easy to find when you're looking at technology, when you know, for example, when I was in Sitel and we were looking at various different pieces of technology, CRM, et cetera. We really needed something that was agile when you're working with so many different markets in Latin America and Southeast Asia, you need to have that diversity to say, okay, well, we want this kind of process in this location and this process in this location, but we still want to use the same tool. We need to be able to tell a story to the business. We need to be able to share MI, and be able to see how we're doing against our KPIs as a TA function, then great, we can still show all of that if you have one system. But when you don't or you're working off spreadsheets and you're trying to manage, you know, high volume from social media, from all different places. It's insane. You can't, I mean, it was almost impossible. Max: I agree. I've been trying for years and I agree it's almost impossible. I know.Lisa: I think actually over the years, with utilizing things like, you know, Facebook as an example, and Instagram, and really trying to attract people from those tools, fairly hard, because quite often you don't necessarily know where the candidate actually heard about your organization, first off.So, you know, they could have seen your advert on Facebook, but then gone to your website and applied online. So, that's another challenge that I think businesses have and I've seen is where did that person really come from? Do we know that our methods are working? How do we know? Unless they directly apply from that link, which doesn't always happen. So, to understand how social media is evolving you need to see where your candidates are coming from. Max: Very difficult. We used to classify channel Facebook, but now we have to split it into communication channel in order to try to be fair with every channel. And ultimately you recommend that...I do see the value that at the end of the process, you ask the candidate, by the way, where did you first hear about us? And they may not remember exactly, but it's as good as any source almost, if you’ve got a lot of channels activated.Lisa: Yeah, I think at the end of the day, it's the only way to really get a true answer. As much as we want to automate that piece, you just have to ask the question. Max: Yeah. It's like one of those questions that, you know, you're never going to get a perfect answer, but that's as good as anything else, like a good comparison would be like, are you happy right now?There are so many different ways of finding out whether somebody is happy or not. There's like, you know, physiological signs and other things, but really the best way to find out is just to ask them and hope they're not lying.Lisa: Right. Exactly.Max: How do you see the market evolving right now? Obviously from your perspective you're dealing with some internal changes in your companies. Could you give some insights into how talent acquisition has changed for your clients over the last few months and dealing with the pandemic? And the response to the pandemic, things that went better than expected and things that went harder than expected, perhaps.Lisa: So I think it's a fascinating thing, right? So to kind of see these changes and see how different businesses react to it. I think for me, that's been the most interesting because now I've seen a very large BPO and now two smaller kind of private equity owned organizations and how they have various different approaches.I think a lot of people are talking about you know, there’s going to be so much more flexibility. Everyone's going to be able to work from home. It's going to be amazing. I actually don't necessarily see that in the smaller businesses. What I see is at the moment, yes, people can work from home, but we're planning for people to be back in the office.So when you're hiring, you need to hire someone that is still in the vicinity of our location. So there's a lot of talk about, maybe some of the larger organizations… You know, especially those that are most well known are talking about, you're not going to have people come into the office. Everyone's going to be remote. I don't think for smaller businesses that is necessarily a long term option. Maybe there will be more flexibility for people. You come in two, three days a week when maybe before it was five days a week, but I think to create a connection and create a good working environment they feel like they need to have people back in the office. So that's very interesting. And especially because both businesses are at very early stages of their creation, so there's definitely a feeling that we need to get people together. So that's one thing From a TA perspective, it's been interesting to see how hiring managers have responded to interviewing people on zoom and whatever, you know, virtual thing that they're using.Positives and negatives. I think obviously in terms of having more flexibility on time and, you know, just doing what they need to do, because we still have to hire through a pandemic. They've done it, but I think, again, when I look at the smaller businesses I'm working with, I think we're losing some of our technique.And you know, trying to make the right decisions when you're interviewing someone on a video is very difficult, especially for senior roles. I think there's still a feeling that I want to meet this person face to face. So that's very interesting. But then when I go back into the kind of high volume space, when Sitel, just before I left, we had rolled out a hundred percent automated process in the U.S, so assessment and face to face, well sort of virtual interviewing process. And that worked from what I’ve seen and what I've heard that worked extremely well for them. And I suspect that they won't necessarily go back to having candidates come and sit in the reception of the call center waiting to do an interview or an assessment and spending maybe two, three hours there. I think it would be extreme and very different world for them now, which I think is hugely positive and was exactly what they wanted to achieve, but needed a little bit of a push. And the pandemic kind of gave them that push, especially in the U.S actually for sure, in the U.S.So, you know, when you're looking at high volume, I think it's been great in the sense of going virtual. I think for the smaller businesses that have more sort of intimate relationships with candidates and have to spend more time. assessing candidates for fit has definitely been more challenging.And managing a process, remotely is fairly challenging. Managing people's diaries and you know, sometimes you have two interviewers and doing that virtually and sharing information on your logins and then the internet goes down and it makes an interview much harder to do, I think than face to face.But we'll see, you know, I still think it's evolving. When this pandemic comes to an end we'll see how businesses react, but I do think some of these smaller companies will go back to being in the office.Max: Yeah. There's a case to be made for faster collaboration, faster iteration, easier to make meetings, easier to get people's attention. Easier to do training. All of that is easier in person, easier to go for a drink afterwards as well. Lisa: You’re creating a culture, you know, if you're a business that is still in that sort of startup mode, you're trying to create a culture. And that's very hard to do when everyone's on remote call on a video.So yeah, for the two businesses I'm working with very, very hard because really early stages and very interesting that trying to do all of that remotely. Max: Maybe I can give you a couple of tips on how we do it at Talkpush. We've got 60 people working in eight different countries, everybody working from home and has been that way for a while pre pandemic. We randomly allocate two people together once every week or two weeks for a water cooler chat so that they get to know each other on a non-work basis, mixing departments between themselves. So we build some team building there.I don't participate personally, but we do have lunches in front of the webcam and a bunch of other things I've seen online. Like people having charade competitions and karaoke competitions, all kinds of things in order to make it, feel like you're connected.Lisa: Yeah, I love all of those ideas. The two businesses I'm working with are about a thousand people each so I think there's definitely opportunities for them to do some bits and pieces, but I still think they're still trying to deal with this situation as much as where, you know, four or five months in, that there's still an element of figuring out what to do day to day, just to keep the business going. So I think in some places you forget that you're also still trying to create a culture. And right now they're just trying to make sure that they're keeping the revenues up right? to survive. But that will come because attrition will go up and that's when you really, you have to focus on your employee value proposition for sure.Max: Yeah. I think everybody's trying to wonder who's going to tender a resignation three months from now when the unemployment goes down. Lisa: But also, actually I'm finding in some markets, the unemployment is not that high. So, you know, back in 2008, and the last crash that I remember, there was an assumption that there’s going to be tons of great people out there. We're going to hire, it's going to be super easy for us to hire because now we're in a recession. So everyone's looking for a job. And what happened then is happening now. In some industries, yes, absolutely. There are a lot of people who are available, but not in all industries. And, you know, then people get lazy and they don't create a good experience. And I'm starting to see that now with one or two clients, there's an assumption that they're going to get the best candidates, but some of these people are still working and we're actually approaching candidates who are still in jobs, thank God. But, they don't want to move because they don't want to take the risk. So that's the other side, right?Max: My first reaction, when you said people are getting lazy, I thought you were talking about candidates, it's like, they're getting their checks in the mail.Lisa: I would never say that, now. I mean corporations are getting lazy because they think it's easy to attract, so they don't want to spend too much time doing it. And you know, us at talent acquisition are having to educate managers and senior leaders to say, guys, the people that you have asked us to approach, they're still working.Some of them are still working and they don't want to move because, you know, they don't want to risk coming out of a business that whether, you know, still got a job and still earning cash, to an organization that is fairly new. So it's pretty interesting that, as much as there's an assumption, that's not always the case. Max: Well, I think it's ridiculous to have that mentality If you're in Talent Acquisition to think, oh, now it's easier to hire. And so, of course it may well be true, but if it's easier for you, it's easier for everybody else. Hence you still have to beat competition for the best talent.Lisa: Exactly. And that's a problem, people get lazy and then you're not able to fill your roles.Max: Okay, well, parting words, last question. Tell me how you think that the role in Talent Acquisition is evolving and what are the qualities required to be competitive in let's say 20, 25, that are, you know, not such a big deal now or a few years ago, in which direction is the Talent Acquisition profession evolving.And how do you keep your team competitive and on the edge of this battle for talent?Lisa: I think it is going to come down to technology. Yes. And depending on what market you're in high volume or not, we need to be able to be on top of the newest technology that's on the market that can help us source the best candidates.So that's the first thing. But then the second thing is you still need to have that human skill of building relationships with your stakeholders and with your candidates. Irrelevant, whether you’re doing high volume or not. I think there's, you know, a lot of people talk about, oh, we won't need people anymore. It will be automated. And you know, you're gonna use AI and it's going to be great and that's how you will select your candidates. There will be, of course there's an element of that. And there will be in 2025, no doubt, but there will still be the human element. We talk about the human part of human resources, right?TA is a huge part of that. And as it gets harder and harder to attract talent, you need individuals who can build relationships, who can do that and attract the best candidates. And in terms of how businesses attract candidates it has to be more than the package. And I still have this conversation today with organizations and businesses to talk about, especially smaller businesses, to talk about, okay, you might have a really great benefits package in one of your jurisdictions. But, what is it, what do you believe in right? What's your strategy? What are you doing in the local community? That to me is what people are looking at these days in businesses.Like what does that business do? do I really align with their ethics and you know, their values? Is that me? Can I see myself working there long term? So I think more and more, it's going to become harder for organizations to really be able to articulate that and focus on that because of course the bottom line is bottom line. You always need to focus on the cash.But they also need to look at who they are and how they're being portrayed in the market. and that will get harder and harder. And especially since social media changes so quickly. That's the other piece like being on top of where candidates are looking for jobs or where you can attract their attention. More and more, that there's so much advertising on social media these days you get bombarded.So how do you differentiate yourself as an organization to people that you want to attract? That also is going to get harder and harder. So being on top of that and constantly recreating, it's going to be super important. Max: Well, it sounds like a very complicated career to be in. Lisa: Yeah, but you know, we love it.Max: There's that storytelling piece, then you gotta be on the edge of technology. Then sort of a strategic positioning where you want to stand out and be able to develop an identity that people can feel drawn towards and want to be associated with. Quite a juggling act.But, yeah, it does sound fun. And, it was fun talking with you, Lisa and catching up after your hopefully temporary departure from the BPO sector. Where can people get a hold of you?Lisa: So obviously linkedin and I have my email address on there. So get in touch, send me a message.If you want to talk, I'm here. Max: Thank you, Lisa.Lisa: Thanks, cheers, max, have a good one. Max: And that was, Lisa Shephard, from Florida, an English woman in Florida with an interesting perspective on whether the work from home trend that has been initiated with the pandemic will last much longer, especially for small businesses who rely on speed of execution and the energy that you get from the team meeting in person.If you liked the interview and you want to hear more about the exciting world of volume hiring and talent acquisition automation, please subscribe to the recruitment hackers podcast and share with your friends.
37 minutes | 5 months ago
Asynchronous voice interviews, going beyond the resume with automated assessments — Paul Noone CEO at HireIQ
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush, the leading recruitment automation platform. Max: Good morning, everybody and welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast with max from Talkpush. Today I’m excited to be welcoming Paul Noone, who is CEO for HireIQ and someone who is in technology. And I've, we both focus a lot of our energy on the call center and the BPO market and service this industry, which is always hungry for automation and innovation. So we both love this industry and we can exchange our thoughts on this topic.Paul, thank you so much for joining me on my new podcast. Paul: Hey, thanks Max, I’m thrilled to be here actually. Max: So our audience, some of them will recognize HireIQ. And some of them will probably recognize you, but they probably don't know the history of how you ended up starting this business, or how you ended up with HireIQ.Perhaps you could walk us through that journey. Paul: Yeah, I'd love to. HireIQ is an interesting technology and we're very focused on the call center. And because the call center has this outsourcing process that's associated with business process outsourcers.Most of the organizations don't realize that, while Fortune 500 organizations, anybody with a product or service has a requirement to support through call centers or through service locations, they also do a lot of outsourcing. So they're organizations like BPOs, the large ones in call centers are Teleperformance and Alorica and Atento and Sutherland and 24.And those are the organizations that we help with in the talent acquisition, part of this, you know, max, you and I probably talked about this before, but recruitment is the term that we use. But we're in sort of a special place in recruitment. We're in the engagement with the candidates, the acquisition of all the data that we aggregate as much data as we can in a shorter period of time.And then we provide it to the recruiters in such a way that they can quickly make a decision, because we're talking about maybe 10 interviews for every hire, we're really known for our efficiency. And then we're also known for the AI associated with how we do that. How do we tell whether a candidate it's going to be particularly good at this particular role in collections or in sales? Or in support?We do a whole lot with that. I actually got here about six years ago through the investors. So I had just, I was working with another technology company on disaster relief, and just sort of an interesting aside, Max, we had built a product around disaster resource management and that's where these large scales or, when you guys experienced the typhoons and we have the hurricane season from June through November and, being able, you know, the shift in technology, the shift to phones, being able to locate all of the things that you need when a disaster strikes is a really interesting use case.So we had gone pretty deep into that and acquired some large customers, the U.S Red Cross, but we were looking to move from the Red Cross division of emergency management and we were looking for additional investment. So I was on sort of a roadshow talking to investors and ultimately a lot of people made the decision that it, and it's a function of that market. But, without disasters, if you have a good year, meaning no disasters, you’re getting no money into that particular part, the Red Cross every now and then they literally go almost to zero. So they actually need engineering, Max: Pure disasters once in a while. Paul: And oddly, when you're in that business, you start to hope for bad things to happen. So there was something wrong, but the investors didn't buy. Max: I think it's not just the disaster people. I have a feeling that a certain class of politicians also relying on a good disaster once in a while. Paul: Well, so there's politics in there, the weird thing about funding ,and how funding shifts, and things like that.I think that actually is what scared investors away, Max, and it's a shame in some ways. That what we were doing was, you know, enabling, with the Red Cross, for example, we found a billion dollars worth of resources that had been sort of lost, and it hadn't literally been lost. It was in firehouses and it was in other locations.And that sounds like an inventory management issue, but it's not when something bad happens in one part of the state. And then you realize that through a quick app, you can find it. Where everything is: shovels clubs, protective eyewear, and N95 masks, for example. Imagine that you put in an application, you find a billion dollars worth of resources, really through crowdsourcing your own people.Anyway, that app is lovely but the investors didn't think it was an investable market at the time. And so I just finished this and I had met with the investors here and I called them back and said, you know, so we'll probably shut this down. And they said, great, because we have something we'd love to share with you.And they brought me into HireIQ. I have a background in call centers. I was with Genesis as they were starting out on sort of the part of the first team. I want to say pre-revenue, but I want to say Genesis is a $2 billion organization right now, 20 years ago when I was with them we had less than $10 million in revenue. So building that to a public company and then moving on, but coming here was lovely in that the technology was solid. But it was a function of focus. We were trying to do too much. By focusing on call centers and BPOs in particular, we ended up, turning into, from being a typical technology company where we might be losing money quarter after quarter to being one that was profitable, really understood what we were doing and then have been very zeroed in on that use case around language proficiency, around understanding our customer's needs and really, more than anything else, making sure that they're succeeding.So closing that loop and making sure that they succeed. Max: Your star product is the product called Audiolytics? Paul: Well, so Audiolytics is really the technology that underlies the audio processing that we do. So at the heart of what we're doing is, the origin story really comes around. While I submit my resume in a recruiting, in an interview process, what that does is it strips out my personality and my voice.It strips out the narrative. I moved from the disaster resource management effort into HireIQ, why did that happen? All of those things that you get to tell people in an interview process. So the origin story is really about how do we add a narrative to what's a two dimensional piece of paper that's supposed to represent me.And so with that, we started to create a platform that would say not only here's the resume and here's some qualifiers about me, but here's my voice. Max: It used to upset me so much when I started on my career and I would go and socialize, go to a bar anywhere and someone would ask me, so what do you do?And, you know, I didn't want to tell them my job title and the company I worked for, because I didn't feel like it represented anything about me. And it would always come up with some weird answer I would say, oh, what do I do? You know, I roller skate or, you know, or something, just so that I could come out and shine and that wasn't a social environment in a work and job search context.Also, what do you do? Should be the first question or rather who are you? rather than a resume. Paul: Tell me about your expense in this particular business is an open ended question that a lot of our customers ask, but asking open ended questions, which is an old interviewing technique and a valuable one really allows people to tell them more. To talk to the narrative. Tell me about your experience in this particular world. Tell me about your understanding of customer support. Tell me your understanding. Tell me about an experience that you had with your boss that may be positive or negative, but being able to do that and being able to do it asynchronously when, you know, we could collect lots and lots of those became really the most important thing.But Audiolytics is actually the parsing of that. The audio data in order to get a really good and different understanding. So Max, what it doesn't do, is it doesn't convert voice to text and then parse it that way. But, it literally is looking for tone. So it's in these frames of voice, it's saying that's a positive, that's a negative, that's a happy emotion, that's a sad emotion. We're looking for things that we know are important for a good employee, but are particularly important when you're dealing with call center agents. That they're engaged, they're alert. They're more active than passive. They're not expressing boredom. Which is really interesting when you can pick up boredom because when a recruiter gets this information, they're going to see an Audiolytics score that says, you know, this person is probably not someone you want to spend a lot of time with.And I would say more than anything else we're not dispositioning customers. What we're doing our best to do is to give them an idea of priority. Talk to Max. He's got a great score. He's good with language. He's got good scores with data entry and even chat. Max: I didn't know that your technology was able to detect boredom. That's remarkable. Would it be influenced by geography and how do you factor that in? Because you live in Atlanta, people are supposed to speak a little bit more slowly, perhaps have a drawl. You don't, but nonetheless, you know, would the software, not pick up on the intonation and think maybe somebody from the South is bored?Paul: So it's really interesting. What you're doing is, so engagement doesn't necessarily have anything to do with dialect. And in fact, the tool itself is just sort of mentioned there's no conversion. It's listening for something that would be appropriate for the cohort of folks who are taking it ,interestingly enough.It's actually self adapting, because the same tool is used for engineers and salespeople and support people — all should have a different dynamic in their voice. And so it actually has to adjust based on the people who are taking the interview. The people who are successful in expressing themselves in that interview, as well as the questions.The questions and the people are really the dynamic that you're looking for, but boredom might be expressed differently by an engineer, or by somebody from, a Latin expression. But, the cohort itself helps to define that. And so ultimately you have not only our recommendation, but you also have the answer.So what's interesting about it is how closely we track to what a good recruiter would do. In the initial testing, after we did the machine learning on it. So can we in fact pick these up at a high rate? So can we, in fact, identify that Max is more happy than sad? Can we identify that when he’s taking this test he's more bored? When we do that, we match Max almost 97% against a recruiter who would be listening to those particular things. So imagine that the technology itself is so wildly accurate in a lot of ways. But you know, to that end, that's what Audiolytics does. We’re really sort of the platform is HireIQ, and it's a whole series of ways to basically create a recipe of assessments to understand more about you more about whoever you're interviewing — at speed. So we're trying to get the recruiting experience to be three, three and a half minutes. So you don't spend a lot of time with these individuals unless you're really digging in on them. And then with the candidate experience should be less than 20 minutes.Max: So the questions are not picked from a standard list. Since you're working with open answers, you don't have to use the same questions with every customer. Paul: No, in fact, they're different in virtually every customer. There are some that seem to be universal people do want, need, to understand what your experience has been with customer support.So, if you're going to be in that customer support role, you're going to have to have some experience in sales, right? That has come up. Max: Yes. For me, it's like a yes or no answer. Have you worked in this industry before? That's usually how they ask that question in a chatbot environment. Paul: So that would be a bad question for us.What we're always going to do is ask a question that asks you to elaborate on something because we do in fact, need enough content to understand the profile. We need to have enough of Max telling us about Max to understand where Max's orientation is in terms of sharing, communicating. For the question, is he too verbose? Meaning he may be struggling with answering a particular question and trying to overanswer a question, or is it too short, meaning maybe he doesn't have the skills to think through and is that enough for this particular customer? So there are all kinds of metrics, there are cohort determined, sort of thresholds. It's really fascinating. And now we've done about, you know, close to 5 million interviews with it. So we have a really good base of understanding of how effective it is when matched with outcome data.So it's really fun stuff. Max: Does it replace, let's say the first phone call? I mean, if you're going to look at the standard recruitment process to hire it replaces the first phone call. Paul: So really what it's designed to do is give you a complete understanding. So we have customers who might do it for the engaged at the front end.We have customers for who it represents the entire interview process. So once they've engaged, they've completed it. They have the scores, they meet thresholds. Then it's appropriate literally for the recruiter when they engage with them to close them. You've probably experienced this, particularly with BPOs is that there's a real machine, there’s a supply chain and with the attrition rates that exist, what you're working your best to do is fill training classes. And what we're doing, of course, is trying to identify people who are going not only achieve the right goals, the metrics that they're looking for, but we're also looking for folks who have an orientation, which would suggest they're going to stay longer.So that's one thing that we're doing, but because there's such a speed element, to this we are really careful about, trying to do as much as we can in a shorter period of time, giving you a complete understanding so that that particular recruiter can sell when appropriate and be restrained also when appropriate.So somebody does, you know, in the U S we have to answer, we have to give everybody the same interview experience. So that means that if you answer the first question horribly, Max, I still have to give you an opportunity with the next 7 questions I'm supposed to ask in an interview. It's a fair interviewing process, even if you disqualief yourself right out of the gate.And so one of the things about being able to acquire this information, offline and, online, as opposed to in front of somebody, it gives that particular person, the ability to advance quickly through that particular candidate and prioritize who to sell and who to, again, disengage with.Max: I understand the benefit for the candidates to do a short interview and a short assessment and get through those things faster, but it sounds like it's more than just, you know, I mean are you doing it because you get dropouts when ,people are held up more than five minutes? Or is it at the request of your customers? What's the driving force behind keeping it just two or three minutes long?Paul: Oh, I'm sorry. So the interview itself for the candidate will be as much as 20 minutes, but we're trying to keep it under 20 minutes, really because there's a falloff Max. 20 is about the cutoff. If you've seen some of the older, you know, The 1950 based assessments that had a lot of triangulation, right.You're asked one question one way and then seven questions later, you're getting the same question phrased differently in order to validate that the first question was like the second question and your answer was consistent throughout. And if you know that that's going to be an hour and a half, you really start to wonder, is there an easier way to get a job? For this wage.. Max: But time is speeding up, right? People have a lot shorter attention spans. They have multiple conversations going on asynchronously with five friends at the time. And so I expect that the 20 minutes would already be beyond the comfort zone for some people who are remote.Paul: It's very, very close. And you see what we're trying to do. It answers that question: is it enough? What we're trying to do is the open ended questions seem very much like what a typical interview would be. So tell me about yourself. Tell me about an experience that you had. What would your last employer say about you?Those kinds of open ended questions are the things that seem conversational. And allow you to expand upon yourself, but in fact are dense with data for us to help make a decision. And so the tone, the tempo, and in fact, the content is even important, but only when you know that that petitioner has an alertness and an engagement that pleasantness that you're looking for now go back and listen to those questions.Is there even more data that we can mine there? And that's why on average, it's about three and a half minutes. Because some you're just going through they didn't meet any of my language proficiency thresholds or whatever. And now we can spend a little bit more time with the particular person that I want to hire.And that would extend, you know, that's when you advance candidates and things like that, but it really is. I agree with you. I think what you're asking in that question is how do you give the candidate an opportunity to advance themselves, to tell their story? And not be too efficient in the process, that would eliminate me being able to tell enough about me. And so I think this is sort of the best of both worlds. Max: Yeah. I get the sense that 20 minutes would be annoying if I'm sitting at home and I'm applying to 10 different jobs, but yeah. If I had a sense that this company could be a fit, they are interested in me, then, yeah. 20 minutes is no problem, easy. And certainly easier than traveling physically to sites. So, have you seen the same thing as we have at Talkpush over the last few months? We've seen an increase in the volume of job seekers, an increase in volume of candidates. And how has that played out for the rest of the recruitment funnel?Is it, becoming a problem where it just means we have too many candidates and not enough jobs to offer? What kind of dynamics does that create for your business? Paul: Well, I think for both of us, what I would say is: volume is important because volume breaks process. The more, you know, we got to a point in the U.S, our unemployment rate was down to 3%, you know, at times probably lower than that in certain places.So it was in fact hard to get enough people to interview, you know, recruiters spent most of their time trying to pull people out of other companies. And then in a matter of weeks, as we all know, it went from, you know, less than 3% too, you know, a lot. And then we're talking about 52 million people at its height, out of work needing to quarantine and work from home. So all of a sudden the opportunity to interview was greater, but the importance of identifying somebody who was really looking for that job and really engaged and would do a good job with both the hard skills and the engagement that we're looking for.What everybody's looking for, to be committed to that particular role, over the long term that became even more important. So a 100%, I agree with you that the volumes changed. And I would say, you know, in the first, because of the way we're set up and because of the way people leverage boards, that we might've seen a doubling in the first month, which probably created some concern on our part. There was actually a cost every time somebody does an interview with HireIQ, rather than it being a, you know, we do a lot of processing…Max: and because we're doing processing servers, AWS, bills go off, Google bills, come up. I had all of that happen as well. Paul: Yeah. So, that sort of evened out a little bit. And while I would say we're up. We're also going into that season, which is a ramp, right? So we're looking for a lot of holiday seasonal workers right now. So I would say we're probably, closer to where we were maybe a little bit higher, but not as dramatically higher as we saw in the first quarter after the quarantining.And we're seeing some alleviation of that. I think we're seeing some go back to physical work, but, the other part, Max's you may have an opinion on this as well, is that I don't know that a lot of people were willing to let go of their jobs. So are people artificially staying where they were highly mobile in the first quarter? All of a sudden now they're thinking, you know, it may not be as easy to get a job in the next place. So, there may be a false sense of retention taking place at the same time. Max: Well, yeah, I guess when things heat up again, we'll see whether all those new hires in the BPO sector from the last six months, are meant to stay in those industries.I guess it really depends whether they like working from home. If they like putting on a headset and getting in front of a camera, and working on Slack, maybe it'll work out and maybe they won’t to go back into the field. Like, I do not have a crystal ball for that, but, I think that some companies are making a shift towards hire anywhere and opening the talent pool so much that they're going to be able to build a very unique group of people which have defining traits, which if you remove the geographical constraints and you say, now I can have such a broader group to choose from. Then you can create new constraints.You can say, I only want people that think that way, or that have this hobby or that are very meticulous or, you know, you can be very specific and that could create, you know, some very bizarre groups of people and that could give the economy some lift perhaps.Paul: So Max, this is an interesting thing. I absolutely loved the whole train of thought. So I have a couple of data points on this. I had a company at one point in which I did a lot. The company had lots and lots of training, and we started to do a model, which we were trained from anywhere this go to meeting in a WebEx type zoom.It was technology, but we were sharing screens. Let's configure it this way. Now this is how you do this. This is how you do that. And one of my employees came to me and said, do you mind if I do some work? So his passion, interestingly enough, was kimonos. So he did he sold, these beautiful kimonos. He invested in them. And what he wanted to do was be able to go to these shows in Asia where all of the best would be there, he’d be able to sell his kimonos. They'd also be commercial. I said, Sam, Do you think I care where you go to a meeting or a virtual training takes place, go do what you want to do.And by the way, then being skewed 13 hours is in your best interest. Now go spend a day there and carve out the two hours you need for that particular training. Just make sure that it doesn't affect your ability to do that particular piece of work, but I just so loved this and that whole concept of displacement.If we can, and it's happening more and more in some of our customers. Assurion one of the groups that I heard speak recently, they're doing gig work now, Max, meaning you can opt in to when you're available, you know, you've got to schedule, but sometimes it's via social media, they'll say we've got surge paying.You've got a surge wage based on how much people, how much traffic we're going to have, you know, based on, on questions, we need to answer about the Assurion products. That to me, being able to opt in, to be able to do what you're passionate about and have that feed your work day is something that I think is really important.And I think that's where you get energy, you get energy by, you know, middle of the day being able to take, you know, take a swim in a pool. I get energy. I did something recently where I went out and I hit golf balls. First time since March, I used to play golf all the time. I'd say 10 years ago.I went out and, Max, doing something physical, like that, changed, I swear it changed my brain chemistry. So I think this whole concept of displacement is one of those things that's also going to enable people to do and maintain their passions. And because of that, we may be in, you know what we're doing with call centers and delivering work to location. I literally think that's the future. I don't think the future like I thought the future was cell phones. As soon as you don't physically have to go pick up those yellow slips, you don't have to answer a physical phone. You don't have an extension that's tied to a location. God, the world changes and in such a great way.Max: Yeah, you were telling me how you got to enjoy more time with your family in recent weeks. Somebody was telling me recently, an article about this reverse migration, which is happening, where people are leaving the cities, and going back to where they came from, to their hometown because of this pandemic and supported through the technologies of remote work. We are seeing basically these shifts happening everywhere and people spending more time with our family. So, on a bizarre way, family values, family traditions we'll see a resurgence as a response to this crisis.Paul: Well, I don't want to be overly optimistic. Look, I think everybody's been through a trauma. And so, one of the things that I'm doing as a CEO, I'm sure you're doing it is giving people some room. Right? I want people to make sure that they... look, I have an employee who has three kids at home, all under the age of 10, who she’s starting zoom meetings with, in three different rooms for children.There's a kindergarten class going on. There's a second grade craft class. There's a third grade class, all her room, she and her husband are working at the same time. It is insane what we're piling on people at the same time.Max: And the bandwidth. Paul: That's exactly right. So that's the other thing right? We didn't talk about this, but it's interesting. I read an article last night about why this is different. And this particular article was why New York city would never be the same. Because just as you said, there's an exit, maybe a million people have left New York city. The rates, the rental rates, the buildings that are empty relative to where they were.But, we saw something like this in 2001, with 911, we saw something, you know, we've had these, national crises in the U.S. 2008. And the contention was why this is different than those other times is because bandwidth exists right now. Bandwidth exists like it's never existed before.So now you have private equity guys that don't physically have to be in New York City, because it doesn't matter that you're physically there to run into somebody because that person may in fact not be there. So when people were telling me, and in fact, during this period, they said, they'd be traveling. I said, well, that's good that you're traveling. Are people willing to meet with you? Which is the other side of the equation, right? It's one thing for you to be willing. It's a second part altogether once you land in a city, are people willing to meet with you? That will change. There's no question, but, I think some of the positive of that and believe me, I'm sure if you're a real estate magnet in New York city, you're super concerned about this. But, I think the freedoms that it provides for individuals is particularly engaging. It's an interesting thought. Let's put it that way. Max: Oh, if you're, if you're a real estate magnet in the suburbs, well, you're doing well. Anyway, we’re going to a more realistic conversation because that will alienate my audience 100%. Paul: But the other part to that, but I would say, listen, the thing that I get excited about is the options it provides. The reality is I think so you can follow those kinds of things in any direction.The reality is we need human interaction. You and I like to do what we do. I want to meet you. I want to run into you, I want to see you compete at a technology showcase. Those kinds of things stimulate me. So I don't think there's any chance that we don't go back to some more normalcy and sooner than later, more 2021.But I think taking a moment and understanding the lack of distraction. Which really is the way I described it early in this was, there was no sports. There were no, you know, the activities themselves that would typically take me off center or off of focus were gone. And so now I had family to focus on.Now I had what's next for the business. Now I had what's best. So I think the lack of distraction helps us to focus. Max: Yes. I see. I think that you were talking before we started the interview about the fact that, you're going to look for a different type of worker the call center worker working from home needs to be self motivated, autonomous and so on.If someone is now at home unemployed and is able to find, well, by force needs to find employment of that sort and then by force needs to build certain life habits around that. And then actually it gets through it and realizes, oh, this works. I can put in 5- 10 hours of uninterrupted work in a day if need be.And now you’ve unlocked something in him or her that they can carry for the rest of their lives, potentially that sense of autonomy and that ability to manage your day. That becomes something you can keep Paul: It's a freedom and it’s magnificent. So rather than your work being dependent on your relationship with your employer or your boss in front of you, you’re focused on becoming valuable, is your ticket to the next role that you have or greater responsibility or in frankly being as engaged in your passions and things outside of work could in fact, energize that in a way that we might not be able to today. I promise you, nobody's complaining about the lack of traffic.Max: Well, one thing, one thing I do complain... I still hear some people ask me, Max, you’ve got so much experience working with remote teams, distributed teams. How do you check on them? And like you just totally missed it. You don’t. You're rethinking about what your job is as manager. But that question still comes up so often.Paul: Here's how I keep in touch with them. I engage with them on how do we make what you're working on better? How can I help? And then they'll tell me. Max: Yeah, there are certainly a few ways.I'm sure some, some of my employees will listen in and think that's too engaging. But, it's great to see how your business has evolved over the years. I hope that we can be part of this bright future. And have more of these partnerships as we've had with some of our customers where they integrate your assessment platform with our, conversational chatbots and engagements to take care of the whole workflow.So if anybody's listening you want to match our two technologies. They work very well together and thank you very much, Paul, for joining me today. Paul: Maxm I love it. And I appreciate your engaging in conversation with this. I love Talkpush, I always have, and I love in particular the fact that you're doing what many other people would be required to do.So being able to get out in front. Engage those people to make sure that they stay in touch and then keep that information about them. Just, you know, in a way that really becomes a system of record for employment. So, we're thrilled to be working with you. Thank you very much for your time today. And, we're partners, so anything that we can do to help you we're available.Max: Thanks. Paul, we'll both continue burning resumes and replacing them with conversation. Paul: There's a whole discussion about bias and all of the other things that we really should talk about it some time. But, I think the answer is engagement and we're both doing everything we can to enlighten people about who they're talking to and why they'd be a good fit.Okay. We've got the topic for our next interview, it will be about bias. Maybe we'll wait a few months for that one. Paul: And so we'll give people some time.Max: And the topic may be a little bit less dangerous in a few months time. Paul: Yeah. I think there'll be more light at that point.Max: Great. Thanks Paul. TPaul: Thank you, max. That was Paul Noone from HireIQ, a company, which has figured out how to measure the empathy, warmth, and care of a voice and allows employers in the call center industry to evaluate those voices in a scalable way. If you liked the interview and you'd like to hear more about some of the movers and shakers from the high volume recruitment industry, please subscribe to our podcast and share with your friends.
33 minutes | 5 months ago
How Accenture Balances Between the Limits of Automation and Human Work
Welcome to the Recruitment hackers podcast show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry. Brought to you by Talkpush, the leading recruitment automation platform. Max: Okay. Hello everybody. And welcome to the recruiter hackers podcast by Max Armbruster. And today I'm pleased to welcome on the show the global talent acquisition capability leader at Accenture, Jason Roberts. Welcome Jason. Jason: Thank you. And thank you for saying all of the words in that title. I know it's a lot. Max: Can we mix them around? We can move them.Jason: You got it exactly right and t's a bunch though. We were just talking and it's a whole lot of words. I'm not sure that it says anything. So, What that means is that I have a pretty fun gig and that I'm responsible for processes and technologies and how we do recruiting for Accenture's customers. And we will do that for large organizations where we hire several hundred thousand people per year.So we get to try out lots of technologies. We have a pretty nice clean standard process that we work from. And I get to, to be a part of that and work with smart people every day. It’s good.Max: Yeah. Fantastic. You said a few hundred thousand people every year. And I guess that number is getting bigger than ever now where the industry is kind of figuring out how we're going to get these 30 plus million people back to work in North America and I don't know, it must be hundreds of millions worldwide. So the pressure is on to, to deliver you know, I'm gonna say a good, maybe a decent experience for most of them. Jason: Well, what's interesting is what I worry about with, with COVID is that candidate experience will stop being a priority because candidate experience is a big deal when you've got 3% unemployment and it's necessary in order to, to achieve the hires that you need to achieve. But when there's 25% unemployment or 20% unemployment, you don't need candidate experience, people just need jobs. So it's, it's one of those things where if I'm worried that we might lose ground in the candidate experience side of things. I think we all want to be in a position where we treat people well, and we had started seeing real improvements in that space. And it was because companies were making investments in the right things in order to make it happen. I'm hoping we get to continue that, but there's a, I think there's a real risk that we'll take a step backwards in that space. Max: Yeah. I've definitely noticed that people are not getting back to candidates as fast as they should be and positions are being kept open even though they're not real. And so it's kinda like candidates sending beautiful offer letters and resumes and hearing nothing back, hearing crickets.On the plus side, the candidate experience is improved by the fact that companies are not defaulting to asking people to come physically in person. And when you consider how time consuming that can be and demanding, that can be, well.. We were meeting in person. It was a lot of work for me. I mean, I had to take a plane to come and meet you. Jason: Well, no, you didn't have to. I was always great with being on video if you want to do that. I found that suppliers really wanted to meet in person. And I've worked remotely for over a decade, probably 13 years now, something like that, that I've worked remotely. And I was completely good being on phone and people would just would want and meet, man. Okay, well, I'll meet with you. You know I actually had an office for the sole purpose of meeting with suppliers when they came into town. That's the only time I went to the office when I met with somebody that came in town to meet me.Max: I remember that office. It was, it was a, We Work Jason: It was a We Work, We Work, right. That's why I only went there every once in a while. I just, I would reserve a conference room. And I think you, you came back to the actual inner sanctum. You saw the actual office. Yeah. Max: Yeah. Well I know you have a very cool job with Accenture today and you had a very cool job with Randstad before. Can you tell for our listeners, give us a quick overview of, where you come from and how you got into this space? Jason: Oh, gosh. Yeah. So I started recruiting, my age will show for sure. 1997. Was my first, my first piece of recruiting work.I was, I had a person, a friend that I knew... The internet was still pretty new. Right. So, like I got email for the first time in 1994, I think. So it was, it was still relatively new and a friend of mine said, Hey, I'm a recruiter. And I, hear you can find things on this internet thing. Can you help me with that? I said, well, yeah, I can help you search the internet. So I became an early sourcer and it was with a staffing firm and, that sort of, I progressed over a period of time so that, so that ultimately, I, I worked for the staffing firm full time then, did some consulting then I spent about seven years with Cisco systems and started out as a recruiter. I recruited Sales and sales engineers for them. Ultimately we built our own applicant tracking system back then there were no web based ATS everything was client server. So we thought, okay, well we’re the backbone of the internet we should probably have something that's a web based deal. So we built our own and it was my job to be sort of the functional expert on that. And I worked in HR IT for a little while, built my own ATS with Cisco. And that was fun. Max: 2003 ish around that. Jason: Yeah. That's about right before Taleo showed up.Max: Yeah, it must have been frustrating to see the startup Taleo pick up all this business thinking... Jason: Yeah you know what, we built my module and of course dot com bubble burst along the way. And things slowed down a little bit in recruiting. And we built the module that was basically how we take job orders and approve things and we hadn't built a lot of the candidates stuff yet. And Taleo came out and with a few other things there and and we were like, Oh, these things are way better. Let's not build the rest. Let's just find a way to connect to these other deals. And that's what we did. We never finished, we just did the sort of requisition piece. It was called cafe rec, was the tweaks that..Max: Back then recruiting happened mostly in Starbucks. Jason: Well, apparently that's how it worked. It was a good thing. And, I learned a lot. Along the way, I became a certified project manager and it was great and then I had a boss that told me, you know, I'd become the operations leader for Cisco. And my boss said, you can either have my job, which I don't plan on leaving anytime soon. Or go to a place that does recruiting for a living. And I said, Oh, that's not a bad idea. And I'd outsourced our recruiting along the way. And I was responsible for the relationship between outsource company and Cisco and I played that sort of client side role. So the company that went through the RFP process, they actually told me no, they said, yeah, I don't think we can help you much. What you're trying to do is, is really not exactly the right thing.And there were a hundred percent, right. Like it was the, the worst conceived RFP and a terribly conceived sort of a model that we had designed and the only company that came back and said, this is a bad idea, we're going to bow out. We wish you luck and we'll help you with something else the next time. It was Accenture.I thought, man, that took a lot of integrity to do that. So, when I went to look for a job, they were the first people that I called. And, they made a job for me. So I went to work for Accenture, loved that, did that for six years in various roles. And then went to Randstand Source Right. And I loved Randstand Source Right. That was a good time. I, I went over to lead operations for them. And I did that for a number of years, uh, moved on to the, Senior Vice President of Strategy. Uh, it was Strategy and Standardization because a big part of the strategy was to standardize. Um, so that was that. And then, um, ultimately I ended my run there as Head of Technology and Analytics, uh, around the globe and, uh, Accenture is a funny place, man. It, uh, it calls you back at some point. There's lots of us that are boomerang. So we've come back. That's the role I'm in now I really, um, I really like. I remember the guy who had the role when I was here before and, uh, I loved what he was doing and we where he got to spend his time.So I, when that was open, I said, all right, let's do it. I came back back to Accenture. Max: Now, if you could go, you know, you go back 15 years. Um, um, would you do what I'm doing and start, uh, an ATS company. I started one in 2008, 2009. I was, I think, a few years too late, uh, on my first run. Jason: You know what? I do look back and think, um, I wish I had been a founder. I have a lot of respect for the founders that I know. And I look back, I think that quite a bit, um, I was, I had a family very, very young, uh, so, uh, we had our first child. I was in that spot. So the gamble wasn't my gamble. It was the whole family's gamble. So I, I never did it. And if I knew, then what I know now I might have, like, I understand the venture capital space. I understand how that all works. And I did, I was just so clueless back then. I had no idea. Um, but, uh, who knows? I have an idea. Maybe one of these days, I'll get to try it out. I do have and idea.Max: Oh, don't do it. Don't do it, Jason. It's the worst, worst thing that can happen to you. No money. Uh, no, uh, I don't recommend it. Jason: Ok, that's good to know! My other founder friends are like do it, do it today! I’m gonna wait until we're not in a, you know, a crisis.Max: Apparently recessions of the best time to start a business. Jason: Well, you know what a bunch of people that did that, did well doing that. Max: Yeah. Um, it, it sounds like, uh, throughout your career, while you were not an entrepreneur, you were able to tinker and build things and build toys. Um, and I picked up on the job title you shared with us. You said it was a Standardization in it. That doesn't sound too sexy, but there were also, um, some more creative exercises that you were involved in. Um, you were telling me before we started the video that you, learned about the limits of automation and where the humans were needed in an experiment that you ran a year or two years ago. Um, could, um, could you elaborate on that? Jason: Yeah. Well, we’re actually experimenting with that right now, even. Um, so the technology exists to fully automate the recruiting process, especially at the, in the lower level jobs. So think retail, uh, warehouse workers, things where you're not making big decisions on the skills and capabilities, but it's more processing someone through with a very low threshold of qualification. So we call those high volume, low skill. And so for those roles, it's possible to fully automate. There's not a lot of discernment involved that needs to be made, a human doesn't need to make that decision on “Do we hire this person or not?” Everyone is qualified if they hit some basic knockout questions, like, can you lift 50 pounds? Literally, “can you have work boots on your first day?” Um, those are the sorts of things you have to, you have to ask them. So when that happens, uh, I remember I went to one, one interview center for massive distribution, uh, site, uh, one of the biggest in the world, I think. And, um, There's a building for interviews.And I sat down with a lady who had been interviewing in that building, interviewing candidates every day. Um, for, uh, I think it was six years. She had interviewed candidates every single day. And I said, well, how often do you say no to a candidate? And this lady said, “Oh, I've never said no.”She had never said no. She had interviewed for six years and never said no. So when that's the case, that you don't need the interview anymore, right. That discern was done necessary. So we tried this with a fully automated process. And what we learned is these sorts of roles. You always, you have dropout rates at certain points. You know, you're going to have a certain percent that fail the drug screen, way more than you would think if you do white collar work. You hear the failure rate, it would surprise you if that's all you've ever done. Um, But there's a failure rate of drug screen, you know, you're going to have, and then there's a certain number of people that just won't ever show up for the job.And, um, what we learned when we fully automated is we could get people all the way through the process up until the day they're supposed to start and they just didn't show up. They didn't think it was real. Some of them would get nervous when filling out the background, check paperwork, thinking it might be a scam because they're asked for, you know, personal information, social security, and so forth, even though it was from a reputable company, they're worried that it's a scam. So in order to ground the position, we are experimenting with the right place to insert a human contact. So where do you insert a phone call to ground this, to be that it's a real position, a real job for someone? Not because you need to say yes or no, but because they need human contact to feel good about the job.Max: Well, that's what the lady was doing for six years, right? It was, uh, she wasn't saying no, but she was saying here's, here's a human contact. Jason: That's it exactly right. That's what she was doing all the time. Max: Uh, yeah, I I'd like to insert more video in the process where you know, that human contact could be, Hey, check it out You know, here's the, the warehouse where you'll be working. You know, do a little phon, recording, and say, we can't wait to see you on Monday. And that, little video can be, it can feel personal, but it could be actually general, you know, you could send it to everybody. Jason: Yeah. I think you're right. I think you're exactly right. And we're seeing more of that. In fact, we're seeing, um, seeing a shift to video interviews for certain, um, a lot of companies are just using zoom or Skype or not Skype, but Microsoft teams, the Skype, Skype got replaced, uh, Google meets for some, but they're, they're using sort of their conferencing platforms to do that instead of, uh, instead of the the formal sort of modern, higher and higher and things. But it's a little bit broken, right? When they do that, because they don't have the formal scoring, they don't have, they don't have the staff, the they're not able to what's happening like the candidate, your platform. Um, they it's, it's not as strong of a solution.Um, so I was talking at one point with, uh, With one of the founders of another one of these companies. And they said, they said we're running into companies that have sort of the scrappy solution. And they're using zoom. And then the ones that are, that were prepared for something like this, um, the adoption rate just skyrocketed.So people, cause video, I always had trouble getting people to use it and getting people to actually lean into it because you still have to review the videos. But once we, um, once we hit this pandemic, everybody seems way more comfortable or, you know, it's become a necessity in their world at least.And they're accustomed to it. Max: Yeah. Yeah. We've, we've done a lot of zoom and team integrations and then, um, have the live video call asynchronous video. Um, I still, I'm still a luxury for, a lot of positions they're more interested in getting people through binary, you know, outcomes or multiple choice questions and getting them to move to a human interview through a phone call. Um, and also still a lot of markets where asking people to log in for a zoom call would be too, um, demanding on the bandwidth. So they do phone calls instead. And, uh, you know. Jason: Well you're, in markets that where that's a significant challenge. Right? But you guys have WhatsApp integration, correct? Max: Yes. Yes. WhatsApp integration allows for collecting video, but asynchronously, you wouldn't be able to do a live video call connected through the business API. You can do it person to person, in the consumer market, but it's not yet supported for businesses. Unfortunately. Uh, same way that, uh, Facebook picture, you know, otherwise. Yeah. I mean, all those companies, whether you're, you're an ATS and CRM, um, uh, social media or a communication platform, you all have video now and everybody has it and everybody can switch it on and it's relatively cost free. So I don't understand how the Highervues of the world are going to stay in business if their story is we're good on video. So is everybody else.Jason: Yeah, that's true. No, it's true. Max: Yeah. Um, Very commoditized. Jason:I thought they needed to do something different. Um, but yeah, we're we are seeing more video. Um, SMS is big for us in the US um, of course, different mediums elsewhere as well. So, uh, we're seeing a lot of that shift as well.Max: The, um, uh, continuing on what we were talking about, the lady, um, that says yes. Um, um, do you think her job will still be around in, uh, in 10 years time? Or do you think that, uh, eventually, you know, um, we can go to a full automated process with no human contact. Jason: Um, I think probably not. I think probably her role probably doesn't exist the way it is. What I think we'll end up with is, you know, instead of a 40 minute actually interview candidates were scheduled for an hour, an hour time slot to come in and do your interview. I think we're going to have 10 minutes, um, basically, uh, uh, Welcome calls. They're their introductions. We're welcoming them to the company. “Oh yeah we're ready to make you this offer. It's already been sent to you. Welcome to the welcome home. And here's your, here's all the stuff you need to know. Here's where you show up what you do” but it's a 10 minute make somebody feel good call, um, and not an interview. Max: Yeah, that's a big productivity gain potentially there.Um, and I've seen, uh, for, uh, some people doing group interviews as well. Because then you have that human factor, uh, you know, you were saying, is it real? Well I mean, there's 10 other people logging into the call and I can see their faces and it's probably real. Jason: Yeah, I saw I was, um, there's, uh, uh, one of the big online retailers, uh, they were doing this thing where they would do a drug swab. This was years ago. This is before I came back to Accenture. Um, they were doing a drug swab. Yeah, as a part of their interview process. So they would have these massive hiring events. They still do it right now, I think. And, um, basically you go, you sit down, you watch a video about working at this, at this place.If you're good with it, um, they have like a long Q-tip. You swab your cheek, it's a drug test. You put it back in the package, you seal it up. You sign an offer letter and you're done, like, that's it. That is the whole, that is the whole process you've been processed and the way that they were paying their suppliers was based on the number of return offer letters and, uh, drug screens that they got.Max: Wow. Well, I mean, I just had to do my first swab, uh, coming into Hong Kong to check, they were checking for my coronavirus. Uh, yeah. Um, but that uh, sounds brutal. And I guess these drug tests have had to, I mean, those are private enterprises can ask whatever they want. Right. it's they can decide what drug tests they ask. There's no, restrictions on state law or anything like that. Jason: No, it's strange. You'll have more stringent drug screening requirements for Businesses than the States in which people live. Yeah. So there might be a state where marijuana is legalized, for example, but it's not legal for the drug screen.Well, tell that to the, you know, 18 year old warehouse worker that they're interviewing for those warehouse job, you know, they're really just picking up boxes. They’ve been moving them from point A to point B. And I'm not sure that whether or not they smoked it makes much difference in that, but that's there oftentimes there's rules that say, yeah, you can't hire themMax: After a stressful day of carrying boxes.Jason: It may be, I don't know, but it's, there are these more stringent things, but if it's legal in your state is if it's legal where you are, I guess nine, 18 year old, usually usual is 21. So 21 year old warehouse worker, I guess she could have a problem. You could, you, it's not as big of a deal in my mind, but the 18 year old, shame on them, they should wait till 21 based on that wall.Max: It should be the other way around. Absolutely. We should have a world where it's illegal in the state, but it's legal as soon as you come inside the company. You know, Basically an office where we only accept people here who smoke cigarettes all day long. Jason: So you joke, but, um, one of the big tobacco companies I did work with years and years and years ago, um, And the first time I walked in there, I saw the ashtrays on the desks, the whole thing.So, yeah, I don't know if they still do that, but this was way back when. But yeah, it's the only company I ever walked into with ashtrays on the desk, because that had sort of gone by the time I made it into this line of work. Max: Yeah. Well uh, I've experienced that as well. I've had business meetings with cigarettes, um, in Asia. So it does feel, uh, like you're, traveling in time when that happens. Jason: Well, I've had business meetings with cigars. That's a different story. Max: Yes. Yes. I don't get invited to those then. Okay. Um, before we wrap it up, Jason: Max I’m pretty sure that i invited you to one at some point along the way.Max: With cigars? Jason: Yeah. I'm pretty sure along the way. Maybe when we were in San Francisco, but I don't know. Max: Oh, I missed it. Well, okay. Talking about the, uh, the current events and where you see the market going a few months ago when, uh, the world uh, was collapsing. You, told me that the RPO industry had rebounded strongly in 2008 and 2009 and had its best run right afterwards and gave me some hope for your industry, our industry. Uh, coming out of the coronavirus pandemic, um, um, has your, um, yeah. Are you on track with your predictions or, um, or you, uh, surprised with, uh, the pace of the slowness of the recovery, I guess, um, how do you anticipate the next few months will pan out for people in staffing and in the RPO world in particular?Jason: Um, so yeah, uh, I don't know what the starting point of the sort of rebound is. Right? So coming out of the 2008 slowdown, um, 2009, when companies started bringing you back. Uh, employees, um, the recruiters came back first, right. And, uh, when the recruiters came back, the ramp began very quickly. And a lot of times they said, okay, well, let's bring people back, but via outsourcing. That's why outsourcing grew so much at that time. What's difficult about this one is we're not yet at the place where I think we're ready for the rebound. I think um, we're still sort of in the low point. Uh, and we're, nobody's really sure when, we sort of swing out of this thing, I'm confident that we will, right?I'm confident that yeah. Eventually everybody gets to take off their mask and go back to their jobs. And there are some hurdles that have to be reached along the way for that to happen. So I'm confident that the world will go back to what we were accustomed to one day. Um, but it's not something that happens, you know, in three months or four months, it's something that happens, uh, over a long period of time.Max: There’s a cycle to recruitment. And normally, you know, end of the summer, everybody gets ready for the big shopping push towards the end of the year. Jason: October. Yeah. Max: Yeah. So now is when people need to, normally when they start ramping up and start you know, setting up the machine. You’re saying well, maybe it's taken a little longer this time.Jason: Well, what's funny is the online machine is ramping like you wouldn't believe. So the people who do your online shopping through, and then who fulfill those orders on the back end. Yeah. That that's going strong. It hasn't slowed down. In fact, um, It's where we're seeing the most competition for workers, uh, warehouse workers are right now.Like it's like a software developers and Silicon Valley in the early two thousands. Max: No, I don't know if I want to go into a, you know, carrying boxes or data science. Jason: Seriously. What I think is going to happen is those wages are going to start increasing really significantly. Much to the chagrin of my customer base, but they, I think that, um, you know, we're, we're being asked in some cases to monitor, um, uh, to monitor salaries or offers like what the, the offer that people are making to candidates on a daily basis. Because Amazon, when you drive past has billboards that say I'm offering X number of dollars per hour and they change. And sometimes they'll change uh, there'll be a different number when you go into the office from versus when you come back and yeah. Yeah. If that's how fast this, this thing is moving and it's not going down, it's all going up. Uh, and the reason that we think that is that, um, These jobs used to be the jobs that were, you know, the next level, they were the good paying jobs. If you didn't have an education necessarily, um, but uh, you wanted something that could actually pay your bills. Um, it's sort of the, the first job that was able to do that most of the time, um, you know, just above you would see the grocery stores and things paid just above minimum wage. And these jobs were always several dollars per hour or more.What's happened is Target, Amazon, even Walmart now have pushed that based salary up to, you know, if anyone wages somewhere in the eight or $9 range, they've pushed to 13 or 14, a minimum wage, the California minimum wage, I think through the end of this year, end of next year. Uh, it will be $14, right? Max: So they as high as high as, as a logistics or, yeah.Jason: Right. So it's, it's now you can, you can either, you can either work in a really, uh, challenging environment in a warehouse where you're lifting things a bunch and you're, um, it may, it's probably climate controlled. They've all added climate control, but there's these big Bay doors. So where the trucks have to pull in. So, uh, it's you can't get that completely cool or, uh, completely warm in the winter time. Um, so you've always got to deal with the weather to some degree when that, when that happens, you can't have total climate control. So you've got those jobs that are uncomfortable and require more physical activity versus, you know, the, the grocery store chain, the, uh, big box retailer, those, those other ones paying the same amount of money. So all those people that have to work with your packages from the Amazon people who have to load them to the, uh, delivery drivers, to the, uh, uh, you know, the UPS guy, whoever, um, all of those, workers, um, they're in great demand. Cause there's more, we need more of them, but their salaries are deeply compressed because of what's happened with all of the retail salaries. Yeah. Max: Yeah. Well I'm, um, you know, from an economic standpoint, I think increasing minimal wages, does uh, accelerate the pace of automation and ultimately, um, force companies to automate more. Uh, so that's probably the response as well as, you know, um, in the short term an increase in, uh, and paper hour, but we know that, um, it's going to drive more automation and will eventually, potentially cost a few jobs. Uh, but if those are the hard jobs, um, that may not be such a bad outcome, it's just that, as you were saying if you have no education, um, and you need to pay the bill, those jobs are very precious. So I don't know. Um, I'm not, uh, a policy guy, but, uh, um, it sounds like you're in the right market. Even though you're fighting some, uh, difficult trends. Jason: It's fascinating, right. If it were easy, the clients wouldn't call us to help. Right? They'd be able to do this themselves. Max: So many times after eight hours in front of my webcam I'm like, Oh man, I wish I was outside doing physical work and I always thought that that would be like a good employee branding employer value proposition. Come in to work in our warehouse and check out, our guns, you know?Jason: You know what you need to do? You need to go, and I don't know about tha EVP, but the next time you feel that way, go dig a ditch and see how you feel afterwards. Because one time I at one was hiring people who would bury the lines for the phone company and they literally were ditch diggers and I could not think of a worst gig. And they, uh, so every time I, when I look at this, I think. I could be doing that job. That would be terrible. Yeah, it's exhausting by the way. Max: I, uh, when I was, uh, 16 years old, I had a chance to go work in, um, an, a modeling agency to just to do intern work. But then my mother insisted, I go instead, go work in our plastic factory so that I would understand the cost of physical labor. And so I did end up going to school afterwards and pursuing an education. Jason: Wow, How old were you when you could go to the modeling agency? Max: 16. Yeah, peak of my purity. Jason: At that age. I think, I think your mom might not have done the right thing. Max: Um, I'm pretty sure she will not be listening to our conversation, but, uh, if you are, I'm still so grateful for, uh, for your choice, mom, and I'm very grateful for your time, Jason. Today and in previous conversations, helping, helping me understand the macro trends and the limits of automation. Uh, thank you very much for joining us today, uh, on this podcast and looking forward to our next chat. Jason: Happy to do it. Thanks. Max: A treat talking to Jason Roberts from Accenture and, and learning about the new dynamics of the marketplace currently shaping, uh, North America with the pickers and the people working in logistics in higher demand than the engineers of the Silicon Valley.Who would have guessed? And if, uh, if you liked this interview, please subscribe for more on recruitment hackers, podcast, and share with your friends. Hope to see you here again soon.
32 minutes | 5 months ago
Fixing the experience to retain quality candidates from other industries post-pandemic - Preeti Shirke VP of TA at Teleperformance
Welcome to the recruitment hackers podcast show about innovations technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush, the leading recruitment automation platform. Max: Hello everybody. And welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. I'm your host Max and today I am delighted to be welcoming you on the show who is Senior Vice President of recruitment at Teleperformance, Preeti. Welcome.Preeti: Thank you, max. Pleasure to be here.Max: Pleasure to have you. Last time we met was a few years ago in Mumbai. I believe that at the time you were working for a company called, Intelinet,, but now it's part of Teleperformance again. Can you explain to us a little bit,, how you ende, up in your current position as the senior vice president at Teleperformance?Preeti: Certainly. So, firstly, thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure, always to speak with you. I think every interaction with you has been very, very enriching and very rewarding. So, thank you again. Let me take a, maybe a step back, down memory lane. When I started off, this was back in 2001, as an advisor in a call center, that's what we used to call them back then.This was before the term BPOs and business process outsourcing and BPMs came into play. Back then it was plain vanilla call centers, and that's when I started. So that was my journey into the BPO spectrum, as an advisor, part of, a semi tech process. We used to handle calls with customers.That was my first experience of understanding that we can actually service customers to another country with them having no idea. We're not really in the country from where they're calling. So that was an exciting journey. And I think that was my first interface with technology and how it's making in the world really small.It didn't matter where I was sitting. I could still speak to a customer actually, and resolve something that was work related. Personally, obviously you could make calls to anybody you wanted, but this was work related. So that was an exciting journey for me when I started in 2001. And, I think from then on I never really looked back.I've had an extremely roller coaster ride in the BPO segment. I've done multiple shades of roles starting from being an agent to taking on some roles in the operations teams, as an assistant manager, as a manager, And that's when I folded into recruitment. I wouldn't say that it happened because it was something that I dreamed off or something I had planned for myself.I think it was just a natural course of journey for me. The best part was that the organization was open enough to adapt and absorb someone who didn't come with that background into a leadership role. And I think those are things that you will only find in the BPO segment, where we're so open to allowing people to explore their potential.And we're not fully so bogged down with experience. We know that people have potential. We allow them to take up roles and start delivering and sometimes experience does not really become a limitation for you to pick up something new. So I guess that was an interesting learning point for me.Max: I've seen a lot of people in talent tech position and the BPO sector that, that have that first experience as an agent, or that first experience in sales and, at the same time, often the industry is a little bit old school where they say, oh, we only hire people with past PBO experience and you could see why it’s because they've got a very high dropout rate right in the first three to six months on the job. A lot of people give up, but for those who stick around, then, they can adapt. They're tough. Right. Preeti: When I joined Cytel, that was my first experience. I still recall those days, the first time I joined the organization, I went with the mindset that I'm going to probably stick around only for six months.Because at that time it didn't seem like a career opportunity. It just seemed like something you do until you figured out what you wanted to do. So it wasn't something that I was planning for myself, but I guess the industry just grew on me. It gave me the opportunities to learn, to grow. To do stuff, which, I would've otherwise never planned for myself.So whether it was learning how to manage, to work with people, to work with data, to work with processes, and to work with a certain kind of discipline. I think the BPO industry just grew on me and I guess I just chose to stick around. So as I progressed, I think the talent acquisition piece came as more of a... And I'll not go too much into the details those are pretty boring, but yeah, I think the talent acquisition piece also started with a similar experience that let me try this, you know, it's different from what I've been doing for the last four, five years, let me try and do something different.So the opportunity was there. I picked it up and, from then on, it's been 10 years now. And things have just looked better and better. And today I'm able to at least reflect back and say, what was it like 10 years ago? So, yeah, I think Teleperformance as an organization, while we’re really, really large, I mean, we're 300,000 people today and we're spread across the globe.We've got a footprint practically, you name a country and we exist. So I think for us, today, there’s no limit to what each one of us can and will be able to do considering the fact that we're part of such a large organization. So, prior to Teleperformance, even when were Intelinet, we were about 50,000 people strong and, I guess, with India being such a strategic partner in the entire scheme of things with us now being taken over a large organization, like Teleperformance, the best part has been that nothing's changed in our DNA.Nothing's changed as far as our values are concerned. I guess because these two organizations were so similar in their value system, it didn't seem like there was a takeover or there was a company buying out someone. That didn't feel like, I would say, at the ground level, you obviously have the more legal changes and the more backend changes.But as an organization, we just seamlessly transitioned into Teleperformance. Considering the values were a match, the people were a match. The direction we were heading into is a match. So, I guess everything looked the same. It was just the fact that we changed our name. I guess that's what it seemed like to people on the ground.Max: Yeah. In Teleperformance you said 300,000 people worldwide. A decent amount of turnover, a decent amount of volume, really big volumes in some cities and in some countries I think in India is probably your biggest market in terms of headcount?Preeti: Maybe not anymore, actually. We're neck to neck with Manila. The English world. We write ourselves here. We're fairly a decent size. I think if I were to just refer to the India headcount we’re close to about 80,000 people today. Spread across nearly 14 cities in India. So we're pretty much there from the North to the South, to the West, to the East. So yeah, we're pretty much everywhere in India.Max: Okay. I think you, you touched on this topic a little bit. You said, you know, you, weren't thinking about talent acquisition and you weren't thinking about HR. And when we think about these functions, often people, I imagine somebody who studied sociology or psychology and was interested in doing competency mapping and working in training and learning and development.And I think in your industry, we have a different kind of profiles that go into talent acquisition, slightly different, and a little bit more numbers driven, a little bit more aggressive. I'm wondering how that's evolved over the last five, five years. And if you're seeing some new competencies that are becoming more critical for the success of a recruiter in this space.Preeti: if I go back 10 years and if I reflect on how, and maybe I can compare to what we were as talent acquisition, in our own family, versus if I compare ourselves with competitors, I think, yes, you used the right word, we're a fairly — talent acquisition is a fairly aggressive setup by default. it is about numbers.But I think the way we've evolved today is that we've not limited ourselves to numbers. We've instead started focusing more on experience. We've started focusing on being able to deliver, so while time seems to always be the most critical attribute as far as acquisition is concerned, because if you do not have people at the time when you need them, you're gonna derail everything that's coming up ahead. You're the first piece in the value chain. And if you differ, if you default, you impact the rest of the value chain down the line as well. So that makes talent acquisition a really critical piece in the whole train.If I say running a train, then we'd probably be the one right up ahead, you know, steering how that train is going to move and whether it's going to reach the destination on time or not, Maybe that's a good analogical thing. So essentially we have transport. It is the engine. I mean, not to say that other functions don't matter, butI think talent acquisition is what kick starts, everything. It's being more, I would say more, um, collaborative. Considering, you know, we need other functions to feel important as well.Max: Well, the audience should know that we're talking on a Saturday and so the other functions are probably sleeping right now.Preeti: Recruitment is working today. Recruitment was working late night yesterday. And recruitment’s going to be working tomorrow as well in some of my teams. Max: I don’t know if that's something that's gonna attract a lot of talent to your team, this 24/7 kind of activity. And so the experience, huh? So you're talking about, people who are building, I mean, designers, people who design a candidate experience onsite or digitally, that stands out. So people who are more about, crafting a design rather than simply processing interviews.Preeti: Right. It's not enough to just, you know, allow a person to feel that someone who’s coming, looking for a job. It's no longer just the employer’s market. It is a job seeker’s market as well, which means, the job seeker is now that much more vocal about the company they want to join. And sometimes the experience of recruitment can also be a deciding factor for them to take us as a premier opportunity or not, and no longer can we assume that if I have to hire a hundred people I'm going to get thousands of them who are vying for that position. That's not going to happen because if I need to get a hundred people, I'm not going to have the luxury of time and effort to be introduced, to hire, to interview and screen maybe tens and thousands of people because firstly tens and thousands of people don't exist.Max: Even in India?Preeti: Even in India. So it's not such a factor of population versus people available for the right kind of job. Because today, as much as we believe that, you know, people who go to work in a BPO, anybody can do that. It's not going to be that easy anymore.There's so much more that we take out from an employee who is servicing a customer. There is so much more that's being put on that person's shoulder to harness those responsibilities. Of how do you take care of customers? How do you take care of stakeholders? How do you take care of your metrics? How do you take care of so many other things that it's no longer, just someone who can walk in and do the job, even if they don't have the skills for it.And hence, it's important that if we do not invest, in a good experience for that employee or for that candidate who is still deciding our effort. But sometimes determine whether he or she is going to take up our offer or not. And it's not enough to just say we're offering a job. What do you want?Max: Of course, the experience begins and often ends with, having a good interpersonal contact and, and being, courteous and being on time and all those basics, there are bare necessities, but those are not really technology trends. They're just good behavior. Are there some changes that have happened to the digital landscape that you've had to take into account in order to be more centric and offer a better experience?Preeti: I think the whole pandemic has kind of turned our lives upside down, as people. And what we have come to realize is that when you're able to speak. And I think this isn't new. I mean, this is age old, you know, communication strategy where you seem to communicate better when you're with people and when you're talking to them in person, because there are so many nonverbal cues, there is so much about your body language transferred as part of that communication.And in the digital world, there are going to be so many moments when none of these nonverbal cues are going to be available to the person you're speaking with. Which is going to mean that everything that you do is going to start to be that much more important and not enough of what you see. You can do the same interview in person.You can do the same interview on the phone. It's going to have radically different outcomes. And that's why traditionally recruitment's always been, I want to see the person, no, I want to meet the person. They've never really warmed up to doing something remotely or digitally. And hence, culturally, traditionally, I would say recruitment is a function, no matter which country everybody wants to see the person.No one wants to assume that if I've interviewed someone digitally, I'm not satisfied. That's generally the feeling inside. You still feel, maybe if I meet the person, I may have a different perspective. Having now transitioned into a work from home or a digital environment. The recruitment team as a whole is having to go through that transformation where they're going to have to be convinced that if I am interviewing someone on video, or if I'm interviewing someone digitally, that's good enough.Max: It's such a psychological thing, right? It's almost like, if you can, if you couldn't bother to put on a suit, take the bus, come to the office, come and meet me, then I can start to trust you. This was a barrier before now, we have to come up with a new barrier in order to ask the candidates to demonstrate how much they want it.Because if you start giving out jobs to everybody who raises their hands, then it's going to be very hard to get a real sense for who really wants it. How do you measure today? Whether a candidate really wants the job compared to before, considering that, you know, it's so easy to just jump in front of a camera and start to do an interview. Maybe you end up with a lot of candidates who drop out or, or are not going to be that motivated to join. Have you seen the volume of dropouts and people who try and after a few months increase as you moved towards to work from home?Preeti: Let me answer that in a different way.Let me say, we're still in the middle of the pandemic. There's a huge, I would say influence of how the pandemic has affected people around the country. And there's been a mixed bag of situations where people have lost their jobs. There are some who are on the bench. There are some who are still trying to figure out if they're going to have a job or not.So there's a fear today that exists. And until we move away from the pandemic situation into a business as usual, where we work from home is offered as an option, not as a driver because of the COVID situation. I guess then metrics and numbers will look probably more different, but if I were to stick to the here and now, yes, we've seen a surge of people who are applying for jobs who probably may not have done that pre-pandemic because this wasn't the industry for them.There's such a huge shift in the kind of people that are applying today. They come from all different industries. And unfortunately the industries that have gotten impacted significantly because of the pandemic, have let go of staff. And obviously those people are now looking for options. The BPOs do seem to offer a good option for them because it was the customer service or it was support there.They're still able to see themselves working in the BPO sector. And hence, we're starting to see a lot more flux of people coming in from different industries and from different backgrounds. People who are willing to try and start working all over again in a different industry, even though they never would have thought about doing that maybe a little before March, that's when India went into a lockdown.Max: That's a great opportunity for the industry to. If you can afford to hire them, and they're quality hires from other industries and they're willing to overcome their natural sort of reticence towards the industry then, yeah, you're planting seeds for tomorrow.You're hiring people that were outside of reach. We've seen it even at our level as a small tech company. We were able to hire over the last couple of months, people that would not have been available otherwise. Preeti: So if you look at it, I mean, let's say, let's say if we name industries, we know travel got impacted significantly.We know the hotel industry got impacted significantly. Obviously they will bounce back. Now the decision that lies with the recruitment teams in a BPO is do you invest in this talent today knowing that they may also be here for a temporary period of time? And chances are that tomorrow when their industry bounces back again, they're obviously going to prefer them over us.Now with that being the confusion in the mind of a recruiter, I think that's the part where we're trying to fix to experience because there's a possibility that some of them will still maybe go back once hotels come up once travel starts again, I guess people will shift back, but there will still be a huge population of people that we can hold back with us.Only because of the experience that we were able to get. So those would be people who work from their previous industries to maybe the BPOs. And I guess that's what makes our job that much more particular. If we fix the experience and not just focus on the numbers, because we get the numbers today or we get them tomorrow, but if we can fix the experience, then we can hold these numbers back and not make them a stop gap arrangement.Max: Alright, bouncing from the topic of experience, to the topic of the Indian market and specifics, the powerful position that vendors and staffing firms have in the Indian market. Do you think that the current pandemic has tilted the market in favor of the employer so that the employer can control more of the experience compared to before where a lot of the vendors, the staffing agencies would really control the entire candidate experience until the point of hire.But maybe that sort of monopoly or that dominance in the industry is starting to crack a little bit given the new dynamics. Preeti: If I were to give a one word answer to that I would say yes. If I were to explain why I say yes. So India in a huge number of cities has been extremely dependent on external agencies or partners who would recruit for us, but the basic grounds or the premises on which the design of that hiding was built was that they would bring people into their facility.And because they're partnered with multiple organizations, their value proposition was that if you walk into my office, I'm going to make sure you walk out with an offer. It could be company A, it could be company B, because they're obviously contractually working with so many firms. Now with the entire premise of can I walk into your office now? With that piece shifting to can you make sure that you can still give me that same value proposition, but not make me come to your office? Now for me to be able to hold on to an audience without physically bringing them to my facility, I guess that's a challenge that every organization is facing, because sometimes it seemed very simple that people would just walk into your office for an interview.But just that simple activity seems so much more difficult now because everybody wants to see, do you have something on the offering, which does not force me to come and physically walk into your facility? And unfortunately, the agencies or the vendor partners weren't prepared for something like this, because they were always dependent on bringing people to their offices because that's their way of securing an applicant or a candidate and giving them that assurance that we will make sure you get an offer somewhere. Now with everybody shifting to a digital platform. It's an open market today. If I can attract talent by virtue of my organization's name, then yes, the dependency on me sourcing through external partners is going to go down, but it's never going to go away.And the reason being that an agency in a recruitment set up, always works as additional capacity. Max: Yeah. You need that. And then to do some backup and to do some pointed search and sometimes competitive work, you always need to have that middleman, but, I mean, it can go down from being 70% of your volume to 7%, over a period of 10 years or something like that.When I interacted with Teleperformance a few years ago in India and they told me that they were advertising Jaipur as a really great destination to go to because of the great weather and lots of access to greenery and not as polluted as Delhi and Bangalore and I had a very different mental picture than what I saw when I came to Jaipur.Jaipur is a big city. There is a lot of traffic jamsPreeti: But if you compare Jaipur with Delhi, you have the benefit of not traveling beyond a certain distance. So you would always have the opportunity to compare distances, but you know, if you actually meet people in Jaipur, they're going to make that little distance also sound an inconvenience.So someone living in a big ground is always going to feel that traveling for 40 minutes is okay. But if you were to place those 40 minutes for someone living in Jaipur, they're going to be like, nevermind, I don't need this job. I'm going to look for something closer to home. Max: Well, it makes sense. I think I'm on the side of the Jaipur people on this one, that commuting time needs to be cut, cut to 10- 15 minutes.I like a little bit of commuting time because it gives me a moment to stop thinking about home, start thinking about work and vice versa. But, maybe there are tricks. You can also create that commute time within your home because you're stuck at home. But I was thinking about Jaipur.I was thinking, When I went to Jaipur last year, I did not find that beautiful, full green place with birds singing and and pink palace. I thought it was still quite, quite rough. And I was thinking maybe I need to go to an even smaller city, to go see, you know, a more untouched part of India and less industrialized.Is it possible today for your agents to work in even third tier or smaller cities than that? Or are you finding the infrastructure is still too much behind? Preeti: So that's an interesting one Max, and maybe I can spend some time explaining how we've transitioned into having a dependency on moving.And if you see the erstwhile, traditional cultures in India, people would generally move away from their homes to bigger cities. Because the bigger city offered the opportunities, the infrastructure, there's so much more that used to be tied behind a big city. And there was generally a feeling of growing up, just for the lack of a better word. A child would feel that, you know, once I'm done with college, I'm grown up, I can live independently and hence I'm moving to a bigger city for seeking a job.Now, not that shift has now happened in a way where people feel that, yes,I have to go, but I don't want to go.To the earlier impression where people were, we used to look forward to moving to a big city, because it seemed like a new experience for them. Now that shift has happened where people are being forced to move from their families, move away from their natives, purely because they don't have opportunities that exist in smaller cities.And hence they have no choice, but to move. Now, the fact that the willingness is in question. There is always an option where people feel that I'd rather go back home. I'm going to work for some time, but my heart is still to go back home. Nobody wants to live away from family. India is very heavy into family.We want to be together with our families for as long as we can. And that's one of the pull factors where people feel that I get something where I live, where I have my family. Then I would want that. And, fortunately, or unfortunately, obviously the pandemic was an unfortunate situation, but the fortunate activity that came out of it was the multitude of options where everybody was willing to explore a work from home culture, work from home opportunity, which made sure that the recruitment team was able to reach out to a person with a value proposition saying, look here. I have an option for you. You don't need to move from your home. You don't need to walk out of your house for now. You're not allowed, but at the same time, anytime you can continue living with your family and you can still choose to be part of a large global organization. And how am I being able to do that? Obviously, technology is supporting me. A person just needs to make sure he or she is having a system. They have internet connectivity, which is pretty much everywhere they are today. And I'm connected. I do not need to move to a big city, I don’t need to leave my family behind. I don’t need to go and find a place where five people can live together because I can't afford to live alone.And all of those things have gone away and it's just been a matter of four or five months. We've not seen this transition over years. We've just seen this transition in the last four or five months since the pandemic hit. And it was a quick and, you know, swift shift into moving people into a work from home option.Max: Okay. I guess that's been the massive positive that's come out of this. And, and to tie back, to close the loop on where you began your career. Did you make that big move when you were coming out of college and moved to the big city? Preeti: Actually, yes, I did. I've lived in, in multiple cities. I've lived in another country before this.So when I grew up as a child, I lived in the Gulf. I've lived in Saudi Arabia. That was where I grew up. That's where I did my schooling, but I shifted back to India sometimes in my high school, when I came back to India and I lived in two different cities. And then I finally settled down in Mumbai, thinking that's where I want to do a job.And yes, and I've lived in Mumbai ever since, I guess it's been a really long time. So, I guess you have Mumbai as being my workplace, my dream place, you can call it whatever you want, but yes.Max: I like the city. It's got a beautiful architecture. The recruitment offices were a little crowded for my taste before, but, I’m glad to be here india embraces the work from home revolution and what it might do to keep families together. And to expand the talent pool, to change the culture of the whole country. I'm excited about what's to come. I'm gonna come back as soon as travel is allowed.Thank you for sharing your story with our listeners and we wish you all the best in continuing the revolution and making the best out of a difficult situation with the pandemic. Thank you very much Preeti.Preeti: Thank you so much, Max. I'd like to just close off by saying, it's such an interesting conversation, always with you.I guess we in India seem to be looking very promising as a hub where work from home opportunities are going to grow multi-fold; it's not going to be a stop gap arrangement to cater to the pandemic. And, the only message I'd like to give to the entire recruitment fraternity is to never say no to any person who's applying for a job, because you never know who's going to stick around and who's not.Sometimes those traditional biases of this isn’t the right profile or this isn't the right fit. As recruitment, as organizations, we need to learn to trust our instincts on potential, on people's ability to adapt to a job, not just by virtue of what they bring to the table, but by virtue of what the organization has to offer as well.So as much as people need to shape up and fit into a skill or a competency matrix for us, I guess the organizations also need to start being more adaptive and open to exploring so many more profiles. So many more people who are seeking jobs outside today. And I think we can safely say that for Teleperformance.You know, everybody matters to us, every interaction matters to us and we're very hopeful that people will look at us as an employer of choice. And we're working very hard to become that. Max: I don't doubt it. I've seen the content on social media. I've seen your CEO promote this work from home revolution and I'm with you. I think this is a transition which represents an enormous opportunity for talent acquisition professionals that could very much be something we look back on as the best thing that could happen to our industry. So, thanks again, Preeti.Preeti: Thank you, max.Max: I had a great conversation with Preeti, which went on a little bit longer than the usual interview and went on after we stopped recording because India is really going through an exciting time, exciting revolution with people working from home, changing the landscape for the whole industry. Hope you enjoyed it. If you did, please sign up for more and subscribe to the podcast here and share with your friends.
31 minutes | 5 months ago
New Processes to Optimize Remote Hiring and Recruiter Performance - Kim Howell Chief People Officer at ERC
Welcome to the recruitment hackers podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush, the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: Good morning and welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers podcast with me Max Armbruster, talking to some of the thought leaders and leading executives in the talent acquisition space, looking at how they're leveraging recruitment and talent acquisition to give them an edge for their business.And today I am honored and pleased to welcome on the show Kim Howell Chief People Officer at ERC. Welcome Kim. Thanks for joining. Kim: Thanks for having me, Max. Good to be here. Max: So, Kim, we're going to be talking about how you and ERC have adapted to the new normal and how your organization has responded to the challenges of the pandemic and the transition to work from home.Then we'll see where the conversation takes us. But, before we go into that, perhaps, if you would, give us a brief introduction on what you do and your background and on ERC.Kim: Absolutely. So, yeah, I'm currently with the ERC. I've been in the industry now for 25 years.However, I'm still 21, so don't do the math. Okay. I started years ago in a call center in Buffalo, New York. As an agent on the phones, collecting past due bills and, you know, throughout the years, I attribute a lot of my successes to the fact that I stayed very grounded in where I came from.I think that you can exceed much better in business if you did the work you're supporting now as an executive. So ERC, I've been with them now, gosh, since 2006. It's been a little bit of a blur because it's an excellent and forward moving company. We're a global BPO. We support our clients cradle to grave.Anything from phone work, chat, email, tech support, you know what I mean, full global provider. We really strive on having the best experience, starting with our applicant experience through to our candidates’ experience onto the employees’ experience, which we all know deeply impacts the client's experience and our customer's experience.So that's one of the things that we've really held true to. Max: All right. Thank you. And I think collections is indeed a skill that will serve anybody for the long run. I certainly have been doing a lot of collections over the last few weeks. It doesn't matter, you know, where you are, whether it's Chief People Officer or CEO, I think you have to collect sometimes.So, well, that was my experience with the recent few months. We had a bit of a scare on who would be paying the bills on time. Tell us about your scary moments from the last four months at the company level. Kim: Yeah. So first and foremost, biggest scariest moment is how do we protect our staff, right.Clients absolutely being our top priority. And our staff being the top priority to one, keep them healthy and to support the business. And at the end of the day, we wanted to make sure that we could retain the most number of employees because it's a scary time for them, right? Their kids are being sent home from school.Things are getting shut down. You know, they're getting locked away at home to quarantine and not everyone was getting locked away in the best circumstances. So our biggest scary moment is how do we keep our staff to still have the best experience while keeping their jobs? We were very fortunate that we were prepared.You know, outside of your typical disaster recovery plans and what do you do if, and knowing that a lot of our sites are in Hurricane Valley, you know, we're pretty nimble. But that was kind of the scariest moment, will the staff be able to work from home? Will we be able to deploy them quick enough?And then how do we continue our business, in this new norm? We executed very quickly. And I think that's what we are most proud of. Although it might've felt chaotic. Although maybe in the background, there was some chaos. I don't know that we ever let it get out. Max: You, you were telling me earlier, you moved to a work from home in a 48 hour span.And I guess over multiple countries, which geographies do you operate in? Kim: So currently we are in the United States, the Dominican Republic, India and South Africa. Max: Okay. So that's about five or six different time zones. If my math is correct and two and a half languages, or, well, one English.But, what was some of the logistics that you had to deal with that transition? In late March. How did you figure out the move to work from home in such a short timeframe? Kim: Yeah, so domestically, it was a little bit easier. It was a matter of letting our employees know when you go home today unplug everything on your desktop monitor screen, computer units, your headphones, everything that you need, unplug it, put in your car and take it home. Right. And obviously we had inventoried those and done the right signup process. So it was a little bit easier there, weird feeling to watch all of your equipment walking out the door.But it was easier in the Dominican Republic, a little bit differently due to laws there, they couldn't necessarily walk out with stuff. So we had to deploy our transportation team to deliver the desktops, to all of our agents that had the ability to work at home. Right. And there's a lot that goes with that.We were having everyone do their, you know, internet speed tests to find out whether or not they could work from home. If they couldn't we were trying to cure my five devices to support the internet that they would need. And then obviously trying to get more equipment when the entire nation is going work at home at the exact same time you had, a lot of supply versus demand concerns.Can we get enough headsets to continue to support ongoing recruitment efforts? But yet in about 48 hours, we were back up and running very little downtime. Couple little hiccups along the way as we figured out tech solutions or internet concerns. But at the end of the day, you know, very little client impact, nearly no employee impact.There's a few clients that were not comfortable with the work at home or work from home solution. That's really the only place that we saw any employee impact, but anyone that was not working. Max: Those customers will probably be out of business soon enough. I don't wish that of course, but they may sing a different tune today than they did three months ago, of course.Kim: AgreedMax: And so you delivered 800 PCs to people's homes, you have to hire a few trucks to, to run that operation. I presume. Kim: Yeah, within DR, 800 total pieces of equipment, deployed within a matter of days, we used everyone's personal vehicle that could drive. Obviously we had a, there were some deadlines that the government had put into place that you have to have it all done by this day.So it was definitely a scattering of anyone that has a car, or two hands and can drive. Let's go. Because you need to pick up these equipments and you need to get them delivered in. It was a wonderful showing, a force by our employees there, folks that weren’t part of the transportation team that became part of it, just to get it deployed.And I think that really speaks volumes, well, not just, you know, of ERC and our culture, but definitely of our folks, down there in the DR, just working together to make sure everyone can stay working. Max: I didn't realize you were present in South Africa and India as well. We also have clients in these geographies at Talkpush. I'm a big traveler. I noticed that these waves did come at a different time and what people don't talk about is the universal kind of nature of this crisis. Almost every country reacted the same way. And every group reacted the same way. We keep talking about our differences, but really those kind of universal responses.One thing that I keep hearing back though, is we didn't think that emerging markets were able to work from home. We didn't think that we had the right internet speed, but these were, you know, these were overcome a little bit easier than people had thought that it would be. Does that reflect your experience?Kim: It does. And for the most part, there were a few folks that we had to furlough because they did not have the internet support that they needed or, and we couldn't, for whatever reason, get them a device or even with the device it wouldn’t work and what was most prevalent is their home environment didn't support a work at home situation, right. Five kids, kids screaming and yelling all day, multiple, dogs barking, whatever the case may be. And also, especially when you look at some of our folks in the DR it's kind of a different environment, right? You have multigenerational families. So it's not where you can lock yourself away in a room and get work done. So we had to make sure that they had the opportunity to work from home. Max: Yeah. The sad part is these are the families that probably need the job the most. If you need the income and you need to have the structure in your life where you can get away from that noise. Yeah. All the more, traumatic this crisis would have been.It goes back to your earlier point that, you know, people need a job sometimes even more than they need the income. They just need that structure. Kim: Yeah. And you know, that's one of the things that did work out well for us, both domestically and in our international sites. For the clients that could not do work at home because of whatever security restrictions that they had.We were able to classify some of our staff as essential workers. So we were very selective in who was going to be an essential worker. If you can work at home, work from home. If you can't we're going to find a way to get you right size or rehomed to the projects that's essential so that we can keep you employed or keep you in a safe harbor or whatever the case may be.So there was some shuffling of roles and responsibilities based upon people's abilities. Max: The talent pool that you're picking from now is going to be vastly expanded with your work at home program. And you were telling me before our call that, you've seen a significant increase the applicants from pre-crisis to today's, right now we're at the end of July, almost August. Can you give us the numbers in terms of how much of an increase have you seen over this period? Kim: Yeah, actually, absolutely I can. And we've seen a few shifts over this new norm or the COVID period. So historically when we were hiring for, there are brick and mortar sites, we saw anywhere from 400 to 600 applicants per month, right.Pending on recruitment needs. At the time, once we went to work at home, that volume increased to 3,500 a month. That was fairly significant. And we didn't have the time to double our staff or more appropriately up it by 10 more people to keep up with that volume because it takes time to train a recruiter.It takes time to get them up to speed. Then we really had to find ways to deal with that increase in volume without the candidates experience being monopolized. And that's one of the things that we really. We had to get creative with technology and we had to get creative processes, right? Because the processes of the past to have one on one interviews and one-on-one screens, none of that works unless you want to give yourself three months to reach back to a candidate.And that's a horrible experience, right? Especially in today's environment, when everyone needs that immediate gratification, you need to respond to them within 24 hours or you've lost them. That's no longer a warm lead for our recruiting staff. And, you know, not only that, but the shift in the demographics of people that were applying was also different.So historically work at home, you see about 70% part-time utilization, meaning people looking for part time work, 30% looking for full time. In the COVID environment so many full time workers were displaced that that completely reversed, where we saw 70% seeking full time employment and only 30 seeking part time.So it changes scheduling. It changes again, the process flow when we recruit fundamentally changed and, and the how .Max: it sounds like it's a better talent pool to choose from, which makes sense. When you go from 3.5% unemployment to whatever it is today, maybe 10 times that yeah. Kim: You know, max, it's funny, it's not necessarily a better candidate. And that's one of the things that has one of the places where we get to change our questioning. And our processes, because if you think about it, historically, the only people that were applying for work from home are folks that had a need to work from home, not a want, a need, right? Because they're differently abled. They are working parents, they are single parents, whatever the case may be. Now it's different. So you have people that have never worked from home and don't understand the discipline it takes to work from home applying for a job that will have you locked at home all the time. And that's, it's really in the recruitment process.We'd never, before had to explain that because the only people applying for work at home are folks that did it in the past. Now we're having to spend time of our recruitment process explaining what to expect working from home. Because it's easy to get distracted by the load of laundry that needs to get changed out or a TV show that's on during the day that you don't typically get to watch or the doorbell ringing.They're really making sure that we're explaining the expectations of working from home before we even get into whether or not you're a good fit for us. Max: Do you have a dress code for people to work from home? Kim: No, we really don't.Max: The benefits of the new normal Kim: It is, and that's one of the things that, and it was weird that you say that because when we initially moved to work from home, our brick and mortar folks, we saw an immediate uptick in productivity because now they're sleeping a little bit longer because they don't have Jacksonville traffic commute time.So they're getting that extra couple of minutes. It has them more refreshed. They can go get their cup of coffee very quickly versus having to wait for break time and then wait in line to get to the Keurig machine. There's all of these conveniences of home, it was new and fresh and exciting.Everybody was uber productive. Then the challenges became kind of post recruitment. Post-deployment post all of these things. Now it has shifted to engagement because it's very easy to lose your staff at home. Because you don't see them. You don't know when they're having a bad day, cause you can't look at them.So that's really where Zoom and the different technologies that we use for engagement became very necessary just to know if they're having a bad day. Max: Yeah, we do a few of these things ourselves internally. We have a coffee break or a water cooler chat where we're randomly paired with somebody in the company to do a random chat and related things help and create connectivity.Of course, the zoom calls, are a factor, but right now I'm trying to a company, 60 people. Um, I kept not ask all to come together, right. So I have to commit method of thinking.training, classroom, tacticaltraining or onboarding. Kim: Yep. So through training and onboarding, we have a couple different things that we do, um, onboarding right now we do in a group setting and we do a couple sessions throughout the day because we do hire route multiple time zones. So everyone can't always join at the same time. So we'll set up multiple times throughout the day, both with am and PM offerings, but it is a total group session.And what we’ve learned with that, even in the past,you know, post recruitment or onboarding has always been in a classroom setting. Let's all get together, but now you have even more opportunities to compound factor that in. Classrooms of the past: 20 people. And our classrooms of today are still not much more than that.But you can onboard 50 at one time, as you can fit more people into a classroom, a virtual classroom. You still want to break out for the actual training, because obviously you want to make sure that they're getting the attention that they need, and that you can keep up with the questions that are happening via polling or chat.But from an onboarding experience, you can onboard multiple people at one time. So it really makes the team more efficient because they're not spending as much time on those isolated touch points. Max: You're using that for the, uh, for the interviewing process as well. These group sessions?Kim: Ee are. And that was a very big shift that we had to make.Like I mentioned earlier, application flow went from 400 to 600 to 3,500. It was impossible for our process of the past to keep up with that. Our former process was everybody got a one on one phone interview. And if you were advanced, then you sat down for a face to face interview with the hiring manager.That's not realistic for 3,500 people. And again, there's no brick and mortar to bring them into you for that face to face. So one of the process changes that we did was that first initial phone interview, we'll invite anywhere from 10 to 15 people into that interview. And we'll have one group interview.And this is just the preliminary interview. If you think about recruitment, it's a joint sales effort as a candidate you need to sell me on why I should hire you. But as an employer, I also need to sell you on why you should want to work for us. So in this setting, I'm able to do that sales pitch one time versus 15 isolated times.And if you think about a normal course of an interview, that phone interview is usually about 15 minutes long, sometimes a little bit longer for supervisory or executive low level roles. Obviously they're significantly longer, but think about 15 minutes over 20 candidates. Versus having those 20 candidates come to one 15 minute interaction so that I can give my sales pitch once, but more importantly, engagement of that team or excuse me of those candidates is so much better because typically these are awkward, right? They don't necessarily want to ask a question because what if it exposes me as having a weakness? Now it's a conversation. Max: Your story made me kind of flashback to when I was a job seeker, myself and I was invited for a group interview.I flew from London to Paris for that interview, I think, or from somewhere to somewhere. And, I put on a suit, I took the train, I went to the office and then I was accepted, you know, welcomed into a conference room with 10 others and I had to do whole thing. And all of this was just like a buildup of tension and anxiety.As I came to present myself, I was very, are you nervous. But if I have to talk about who I am for a couple of minutes, while I'm looking at my computer in the comfort of my home, I'm sure I can knock it out of the park, even 20 year old version of me, you know? Right. So, one of the tricks of recruitment is putting the candidate at ease so you can see really who they are, then you're working from a better place, actually, if you're letting that happen from their home. Kim: Yeah. And I think that putting them at ease is so important, especially in today's environment. It's a great point that you make Max, because if you look at where we are today and in the environment, So many people need a job and they're going to therefore tell you what they think you want to hear to get that job.So it's not just a recruitment to put candidates in the seats of our training class, but recruitment needs to put the right candidates in the seats, in our training classes, ones that are going to have stickiness, and that are going to stick with us for a long period of time. Turnover is expensive.Recruiting is expensive. So the less people you have to introduce into the organization, the better. So you really need that stickiness. Hmm, but then what the recruiters are really tasked with doing now is candidates need to be at ease. It's less about the skills they bring to the table, and it's more about their ability to be taught the skills we need them to have.And that's really what we've changed in our philosophy, because it's not, we want to experience or you have to have X number of years in the industry. It's are you teachable? Because teachable individuals have more loyalty and have more stickiness. If I've taught you a scale. If I've taught you how to be successful.And then more importantly, I've made you successful within the company, based upon the trainings. You're more apt to stick with us versus coming to me with 10 years experience and not necessarily liking the environment and know you can go someplace else. So we like to really have a good mix of tenured people with experience, and then just the teachable individuals go a long way.Max: I don't know where you're going to get the best retention from, from the old timers or from the freshers. Because of courseboth come with a risk, um, going from 400 or 600, hires per month to, or candidates per month to 3,500, almost 10 X in volume. Um, You've been able to perhaps a bit to create a few more filters and what are some of the filters that we can use, that recruiters can use to determine if candidates are teachable or, or to make sure you hire people who are adapted to work at home?Kim: Some of that is done even before we ever talked to them. And that's really where I think employers can leverage whether it's their ATS or just standard processes to have people self select their course, meaning what path are they going to take?Beause we have various different openings, whether it's collections, chat, email, customer service, retention efforts, whatever the case may be. So you want to go through some questioning within the application process. That's going to have them select the right course. That's best for them. Are you looking for a PM shift?Okay. Well, that's going to put you into a different pool than if you're open and can work whenever. So some of the questions that we do even before we talk to them, we have them do their internet speed tests. You know, you have to have proof of a workspace, show us your workspace, submit those pictures to us.All that's done via our ATS portal. So that when we go to sit down with the candidates, we've already done all the checklist work, right. We already know that they pass the sniff test so to speak on a tech solution and an environmental solution. Now we need the teachables. And in that group setting, you'll be very surprised on how much you get from that.Because one of the requirements of the interview is you have to be on camera, right? We need to see you. We need to know the reaction. So as people are asking questions, you can see the folks that have a ton of experience. They're either open to our answer or they're like, oh, I know the answer. Well, I know the answer means, you know, the answer of your past employer.Not that you're going to be open to how we do it at ERC. So we do a lot of profiling in those interviews in just how receptive are you to people's questions, to our feedback, to our responses, and to our environment. So we like to read those facial expressions and you know, one of the problems with zoom is now I talk to my hands a lot.It's the New Yorker in me. I can't help it. I always tell people to keep a distance. So I don't accidentally get to you. But some things you lose in zoom. So we always tell people, you know, we give them a zoom etiquette course before we do the interview. Sit back from your computer, don't have it right up on your face.You know, we want it exactly, but we want it to be a good experience for everybody. We don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable. And that was one of the things and something I definitely recommend for employers to do for your recruiters. Don't assume everyone understands technology. As savvy is I'd like to pretend that I am, I was very new to zoom when we went into COVID. I was very used to, hey, meet me in the conference room. So I had to really educate myself on how to do a good zoom experience for my staff. And that's one of the things that we really had to sit down with the recruiters to say, how do you make it a good zoom experience for your candidates?And, you know, you were talking earlier about some of the engagement activities. And I think so many people look at recruitment as being over once the job starts. And it's not, in my opinion, it's just starting. Our best applicant source are our staff. Refer is the key referrals, stickiness. They know what they're walking into, so you don't have that, or it's not what I expected turnover rate at play for referrals.And it always tell everybody recruitment is a continuous effort. The employee that's been with the company for 20 years should be your best recruiter. They should be out there, you know, handing out cards. Here's, you know, we're hiring whatever the case may be. And we do a ton of engagement efforts.We did a lip sync challenge the other day on zoom. And we brought everybody in and just did some lipsync battles. We've played charades via zoom. We've done impersonations. You have to guess the person there's so many different things that we've been able to do on zoom. And I know that sounds weird.It's used as a recruitment tool, but think about it. How many people get to say, like, I actually had fun at work today and yes, it's a grind and we work hard and it's exhausting. But at the end of the day, I played charades with an executive. That was pretty cool. And I don't know many companies that do that.So you've got to continue to invest in your business to make sure that recruitment stays exciting. Max: That is very creative. And my idea of creativity was we're going to send them sandwiches and beers at home, which probably works too. But this is good stuff. I am not looking forward to it, but I have a feeling that my Head of HR will organize some charades, unfortunately, all that.Kim: It is super fun. Max: Yeah. I can do that. Maybe with a beer ,if I can combine the two. Kim: Yeah. That's what I was going to say. Send yourself, the sandwich and a beer and you're good. Max: All right. Well, you've given a lot of great ideas to our thinkers. To close it out and thinking about that continuous improvement you were talking about I really think that, we’re really at the beginning of this transition.Where do you see the next level of automation? What are some of the stuff that your recruiters are still working on that you feel is a little too time consuming and you wish you could take off their desk how are you I'm imagining the next few months or a few years of innovation?Kim: The biggest thing that I see right now is finding a way to capture both the voice component of recruiting and the text or context component. Right? So there's a ton of vendors out there that do a lot with whether it's profiling the video assessment or taking speech and keywords and all of these other things.And we have our Mars application, which is our homegrown application that we use for text analytics or excuse me, speech analytics and the speech analytics are super important in recruiting by listening to the conversation and giving feedback or training opportunities to our recruiters. But more importantly, and what we want to tie together as we continue to evolve, our tech solutions is taking all the texts that happens within the application process, right? The resume.Yeah. If it's required, if not just what they fill in on the app and looking at our success stories internally and tying the two together, you know, putting in that, if this, then that logic, within the entire recruitment process, because what we see when we manually look at it, which is a super time consuming and archaic process is, Hey, this person had all these work gaps.They were not successful. Okay. Well, how do you drop those work gaps or put them into a different bin for a different type of work treatment to find out why are those work gaps? Was it contract work? You know, there's other things where we find a great success rate in our customer service arm of folks that come from Chick-Filet.Everyone that I strictly as a huge customer service backing and, and really invested a ton of time in that. And I know it's weird. Right. Okay. So someone who served fast food is successful at a BPO. Absolutely. Because again, BPO is customer service. Max: Yeah. That doesn't shock me. I'm still trying to think how you can automate this, you know, when you do that group video group interview that you do, and you say you're, you're reading, people's faces to see, see how people react to what. I think the HireVues of the world do analytics around video, but I don't think anybody, maybe the Chinese government has figured out a way to analyze 12 faces set simultaneously and contextually.But that is some next gen stuff should keep us busy for the next appointment.Kim: At least. Right. And, and that's really where, you know, one of our biggest things is finding the right partner. That's trying to figure it out also, and let’s build it together. Right. That's because I don't think anyone's figured that out yet.And I know it's coming and my goodness technology is advancing quicker than we can get through R and D with different vendors. So that's really where it's okay. Who's got the bandwidth, the savviness and the patience to deal with us in a partnership to build that. Because it's coming. And I look at the amount of time that my recruiters, I don't want to say waste because it's valuable, but right now, so much of recruitment is processing, not recruiting.Yeah. And if you could find a way to automate those manual touch points, um, that are necessary to decide, do they get an interview or not? Using, you know, a data analytic tool on the resume using that data analytic tool on the conversation, now they can recruit. Max: I cringe at the thought that people are going to take the current crisis as an opportunity to revert back to bad behaviors and treat, you know, stop treating candidates nicely.I get the feeling that is not going to happen at ERC. And, I really want to thank you, Kim, for your inspiring words and sharing the story of the last few months with us. I wish you and ERC all the best.Kim: Thank you so much. Thanks for your time. Max: Thanks Kim. Talk soon. Max: I had a lot of fun talking with Kim Howell, and you can see from her determination and attitude, how she managed to drive her career from working into collections all the way to Chief People Officer at ERC. That kind of leadership where an opportunity comes in the shape of a crisis to transform and move things around and where you have to start changing hats, putting on your logistics hats in order to facilitate hundreds of people staying at work and being able to continue, have structure in their lives through this pandemic. So great chat Kim. I hope you stay on for more Recruitment Hackers Podcast.Please follow us and share with your friends so we can get the word out on our new podcast.
27 minutes | 6 months ago
AltiSales, Tito Bohrt - Inbound Recruitment through Quality Content
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry. Brought to you by Talkpush the leading recruitment automation platform. Max: Hello everybody. And welcome back to The hacks from max, our recruitment podcast for recruitment hackers and people who’re interested in accelerating recruitment. Today we have a really exciting guest joining us who is not coming strictly from the world of recruitment and talent acquisition. But in fact, from the world of sales, Tito Borht is the founder and CEO of AltiSales, which is one of the leading sales development providers to the startup and tech world in the U.S. I met him in San Francisco a few years back, and I've been following him ever since on social media. Which he has turned into a hiring engine for his company. Tito, welcome to the show. Tito: Thanks Max. It's good to be here.Max: Thanks for coming. So on this show we talk a lot to Talent Acquisition professionals and we present content for people who are hiring thousands and thousands of people.And yesterday I was talking to somebody who hires 10,000 people a year. Your business is at the different end of the spectrum but I think that's what you've done at AltiSales can be really inspiring for companies of all sizes which is leveraging your voice on social media in order to attract exceptional talent. So that's where I'd like to take the conversation to. but first before we get going tell us a little bit about yourself. What is the AltiSales.Tito: Cool. Yeah. Quick background here. So I started a sales development consulting and outsourcing company back in 2012. The idea came 2011 started really doing work 2012. And we’re a really fun company to work for. I mean, we are a distributed company. We have employees and I think at one point we had like nine countries, I think now we're like seven different countries. A lot of people work from home. We have cool things happening like the quarterly president's club.So every, three months, everybody who's hit their goals for the company is flown over to a cool destination. We've done things like Cancun, Mexico, the Bahamas and places like that, we get the team together and we spend about a long weekend, with one another, just enjoying ourselves, getting to know the rest of the team and so on and so forth because the rest of things are just managed via Zoom. So we're really interacting, just via video conference.Max: So with this pandemic in place, no more quarterly president's club. I ImagineTito: Yeah, we're punting the President’s Club for the future. So everybody who’s qualified in Q1 and now is qualifying in Q2 is going to join me the same one at some point and we’re going to make it bigger and better once we can travel. But yes, coronavirus has ruined a little bit of the fun, you know, I sometimes joke with the employees and I say, you know, maybe the way we will run this is we'll just do president's club like this. Max: Ooh. Yeah. For those who are listening, Tito just switched on his zoom background with the Palm trees. Yeah, I think this is the closest, a lot of people have been to the beach, sad times. But you know, I mean, I don't want to talk about sales efficiency, but for Talkpush. We’re spending less time traveling and more time selling, actually. Maybe you've seen the same thing.Tito: Yeah, that's right. I think companies that are commonly remote are doing so much better than the usual company. And then companies that are usually in house are struggling to figure it out. At the beginning it was figuring out their setup, meaning what do I need at home to be able to have the basic equipment so I can work.But nowadays it's productivity, you know, it's not easy to transition from working at the office to working from home and not wanting to take a nap from noon to 3:00 PM, right. Or whatever it is. Max: I already took mine. So we're good. Nothing wrong with taking a few naps, by the way. I mean, that can also be a productivity tip. but yeah, maybe not a two hour one. I do think if you want to accelerate your time to nap, a glass of wine at lunch really, does the trick. Tell us about AltiSales, the type of profiles that you're hiring for and maybe, you know, when you started this company how did you come up with a recruitment process that was gonna speak to your values? That was going to speak to the kind of people you want to work with?Tito: Yeah. So it was funny because the company, the first thing we set up was based in LA Paz, Bolivia, and we hired half of our team in the U S and we offered them all expenses paid to Bolivia. This was back in 2012. And then we hired a few people locally in Bolivia, and we built a hybrid team, righ, of native Americans living in Bolivia for six months, doing some work and then some local people that would be more or stable throughout the years in terms of being able to work with us. Unless, because the visas get more complex the longer you want to keep people out of the country and working there.So, I think at the beginning it was very much trying to figure it out. Where do we post in these different countries? What countries want to use websites like Indeed versus Craigslist versus local, even newspapers or stuff like that. Finding the people with the basic requirements, like for us, we're an English we're speaking company. Then our main, you know, language is going to be English across the board. But, then there are some teams that speak Spanish more than English. For example, we have a good amount of people in Latin America. So the early days I think it was more figuring it out and understanding where to post and what to post, in different places.But then as years went by the strategy evolved and nowadays we actually find about 80% of our employees directly through social media. I mean, LinkedIn is probably the biggest place. They come inbound. So, I post something about us recruiting and we just started getting applications, which is awesome.And then the other 20%, I think, comes from regionally sourced through current employees that understand their local countries and we know where to post. So we want to hire somebody in Colombia. We have somebody there that will tell us where to post. Somebody in Costa Rica, somebody in Bolivia, somebody in Argentina, we have all these different countries where we know what are the common places, where English speaking people, would be looking at.Max: You know, the good job boards and marketplaces. You were talking about the sourcing strategy from a posting and then how it moved to social media. In a bigger company you have let's say 20 or 30 people working in recruitment. You'd have half the team doing sourcing the other half doing interviewing.And then within the sourcing team, maybe you'd have a team that's dedicated to social media storytelling and answering questions. And if they're big enough, maybe they even have a chatbot, like the one we provide in order to handle these inquiries. I guess your time has, over the years, you've shifted more of your time into social media and into storytelling because you realized that it was gonna save you money on advertising or was it more about changing the quality of the traffic? How did this come about? Tito: Yeah I wish it was as strategic as you would make it seem. I think the way it worked is I just, I'm a very open and transparent person. So I started sharing a lot of things on social media, and I write blogs on LinkedIn and Sales Hacker about how to run a company, better everything from commission structures to, you know, whatever, like SDR to handles some things that are very specific to my industry. But, I also share a lot about company culture. Like how do you build promotion paths? And how do you compensate your people?And why you should do president's club and why SDRs matter and blah, blah, blah, and things like that.And that's just attracted my audience, like the type of people that I hire align with those beliefs and they read my blogs and you know, my information online and they say, that's a company I’d love to work for. And then obviously it does have additional benefits. Like everybody working from home, you know, allows us to have a very broad market.So I don't need to be trying to recruit somebody in San Francisco or somebody in Boston or somebody in Texas. You know, I can go and say, it doesn't matter where you work. It doesn't matter where you live. If you align with our mindset, apply. We hire everywhere and anywhere.Max: Yeah, that's, that's a good point. I hadn't thought of that. This is especially applicable for a company that is open to hiring remote, because when you're doing social media, you're investing your time in building content. You can't really decide where it ends up. It might be consumed anywhere in the world.And so you don't want that to be lost Did you find that, you said 80% of the traffic or your hires now come from LinkedIn and what is it Instagram? What other channels are you using? Tito: Yeah. LinkedIn is maybe the place where we get the most sales development reps, just because of the following. We just got, god, I think 40 or 50 resumes from people in Latin America through just having our teams post on Instagram. I put a post, my employees, follow me on Instagram and share the post. And because they're regionally located and they have friends or friends of friends, they said we're recruiting. Help me spread the word. Here's what we need. Basic requirements ping me for a link to the job post. And then we got like 50 people in like two or three days and we wanted to hire two. We hired one very quickly. They had all the exact skills and requirements that we're looking for. It's an entry level position, but they were experienced already.They knew more about the world of data research than we expected to find and they were great. So, yeah, for us, it works really, really well. The more you grow outside your main city, the more valuable social media recruitment becomes. Because, as you said, you can't pick where they’re going to read your content and therefore, the more open you are to hiring internationally or outside your HQ, the better Max: There are a lot of companies right now, which as a response to the pandemic have decided, we're going to be working from home from now on, and this is how we're going to operate going forward. Even for positions that we thought were desk bound we've made the switch completely.So I think they're going to have to look at, let's maybe switch off some of our span on the job boards and the CareerBuilder and Indeed and move some of that into investing, into creating quality content that people will share and reshare, et cetera — on LinkedIn. Your content is super targeted to the sales development community and it's almost like, it's got a very distinct voice where you sound like you're an industry lobbyist; that you're fighting for the little guy. Which is a great way to get some, I guess, attract certain types of profiles. I Imagine this kind of strategy could be replicated well for companies that hire a particular professional, a particular type of professional. Could be for a company that's hiring lawyers or maybe a company that's hiring sales insurance professionals or recruiters. If you have a big staffing firm, we could replicate that and get inspired from from your content.Do you think that would work?Tito: I think so. I think that this is applicable to any company. And again, it depends. Who's writing the content? I think that if the content is coming from the CEO and it's a company wide kind of a mindset. It can apply to any company and it can apply to any position.Right? The idea that we take care of our employees, like I tell my team, I say, you know, 20 years down the road, you're going to look back at your career. When you think what was my best career decision I've ever made, if that decision wasn't to join our company, then I failed as a leader. And I repeat that several times and we operate with a mindset of that being the case.So we're really investing in coaching and training and helping our team do better and learn more and, you know, grow us as employees. They really appreciate it. I mean our employee turnover is almost nonexistent. I've only had, in the last three years, two employees leave our company voluntarily.Got another two or three due to low performance, which you know, will happen. We tried training them forever and things didn't work. But well, truly, for a company with 25 employees having churn, I don't know, maybe six or seven employees in three years. it's something that we're proud of.Max: That's pretty outstanding. Either you're doing something right or you're hiring the worst performers in the market, they can't find a job elsewhere. Just kidding. I've had a few departures myself over the last year. Which you know, was always disappointing, but mostly the people who left because they wanted to start their own company and they have a new startup, a new venture. And, you know, I take a little bit of satisfaction in knowing that I helped them to learn the trade and gain the confidence to become entrepreneurs themselves. So that's the kind of attrition I'm okay with, I guess. Tito: Yeah, that's right. I say that to my team all the time. I say if you're leaving, I actually just the one person where we recruited via social media recently, especially Instagram helped us a lot as our team shared.She's moving to the nonprofit world. So. That was her passion. She worked, you know, in Washington, in DC for a nonprofit before and now her old boss contacted her saying, if you want to come back, we're hiring remote and I can hire you regardless of where you are. She's in South America, as she said, I'm taking that one also because the pay they were offering her was way higher than she was making Latin America. She was getting essentially a U.S salary in Latin America. Max: So the nonprofit world, plus the salary. That's hard to beat. It’s hard to fight against that. Tell me about, how do you feel about how your recruitment work has evolved over the years? What are some of the remaining pain points? You've solved around the issue of sourcing and you've got a good pipeline of candidates coming in, and it sounds like you could probably scale it up.I mean, I know you're still a relatively small business, but I would imagine that you could find potentially hundreds of sales reps to hire globally with a social media first strategy. I don't think that there's any limitations there because the universe is so big. but what are some of the limitations on your end where you feel like, wow, I wish this didn't take so much time? Or where do you think are still some of the opportunities or the pain points today? Tito: Yeah, that's so funny. When you say pain points, I can say I smell your sales sweat. Only people who have done enough sales would ever talk about pain points. When I talk to my friends I don't talk in pain points. I talk in challenges or whatever, you know, Max: I don’t use challenges. I use pain points. Tito: Yeah. So like, hey, you know, team meeting! Okay, here are my pain points. What are the difficult parts? I mean, one of the things that we've done well is get way more strict on the process that we go through to make sure our candidate is qualified.Like we're going to do both the culture fit and a skills test. The skills test for the SDRs is we actually give them a bunch of online resources. We say go watch these videos, go read these things and then come back and, build a sequence of phones and emails and show us that you can do the work and you can do it well.And they need to pass that test in order to do well, so we're testing for both, their ability to learn quickly through only resources. And their ability to execute well, once they've learned something. So that that's helped us a lot. We do the same on our data research team. We have a few tasks, they gotta do an Excel, as part of the interview process and so on and so forth.so those scale pretty well and then our team retention is so good that we don't need to hire a bunch of people. We're hiring five or six per year and we can get very strict on quality. It's kind of the opposite of how most people think. Most people think, what's the minimum amount of money I can pay my employees while still being competitive in the market?And what's the minimum I can train them while they evolve their career? What's the minimum number of promotions I can give while they’ll still not leave? And I think about it the complete opposite way, I think what’s the maximum amount of effort I can put towards an employee while still making it profitable? And have that employee grow as much as possible within the company? How do I maximize the employee experience? So as a sales guy and a sales development person, my background is in psychology and I'm always thinking the opposite. I’m always thinking how do I maximize the experience of any other person interacting with us? When you look internally. I think about it in the exact same way. How do I maximize the employee experience? How do we maximize the fact that after them being with us for three months, they say, holy cow, that onboarding was incredible. Their training is incredible. I'm being helped. Employees make mistakes, how you treat them, how you manage your team… This great book called Radical Candor helps with that employee communication. It talks about like rockstar mindset versus superstar mindset and being radically candid. So we apply a lot of these principles to make sure, first, that our current employees are incredibly happy, and second, how do we find the people who will fit the skills that we're hiring for? And also fit the culture we are hiring for? If we hire the right person they're going to stick with us for many, many years.So, that's the mindset behind our recruitment strategy. Max: Well, it's lovely to be able to be so picky, Tito. And I think that your psychology background, that's what you said, that's what you studied in school?Tito: Decision neuroscience.Max: That sounds a little heavier than just psychology. Psychology is the most common major for people working in talent acquisition and HR, and they're very much focused on employee happiness. I think people who exercise that empathy muscle will have a bright future. I think that most of the challenge in recruitment and talent acquisition has moved away from how do we reduce the cost per lead as much as possible, because it's really easy to get volume, actually, today. I mean, you can always buy volume. Your system sounds like you spend more time optimizing around that initial assessment and figuring out that very hard thing, which is can, somebody research and be curious,and solve problems in the course of that recruitment process.Is the interaction with the candidates happening over email, Skype? Or what are some of the tools you use? Tito: It varies. I mean, when we've recruited internationally, number one is, do I have good enough English to be able to work on the team? So literally people send us a WhatsApp message. We ask them, you know, to do X, Y, Z, or introduce themselves or pitch something.And, and we just want to gauge the quality of their English, which is important. Max: Do you eliminate anybody who uses the word pain point?Tito: Definitely, discarded, immediately. Forget about them. Joking aside, we do look at what are the basic skills that we need for the employee. And we've mostly recruited positions that are fairly entry-level and we grow our people.So, our managers internally, we recruited one SDR manager and he's grown a lot within the company, has gotten so much better. And then everybody else has been promoted into their leadership positions. So we really hire from the ground up and evolve our people and make them better than keep them in the company.So yeah, I really enjoy building it from the ground up. Increasing the loyalty rather than, like you said playing the game of lowering our cost per lead. What I want to do is maximize what I call ROTI and this I learned from a mentor of mine, Matt Cameron. This ROTI is return on time invested.Max: I know Matt, I met him in San Diego, before the crisis.Tito: Nice. He's amazing. All his trainings are great. But, the way you think about it is, how do you make sure that any employee joining your company or who’s already at your company — when they look at all the options they have, they can go work other places, or whatever else. How do we maximize a return on their time invested?We're asking them to invest another two years. When I talk to an employee I'm like, why are you going to be here two years from now? What is this job giving you that makes it the best idea to be here for the next two years? And for some of them it's financial, Oh, I can make the most money here than anywhere else, because I'm going to work on my sales commissions, whatever, and our commissions are great. For other people, growth learning, the opportunities. For other people as a job, flexibility for other people it’s our management style, the lack of stress of the job, because we're very results oriented. Not, you know, time and effort oriented. Max: Sorry, don't mean to interrupt. I was thinking that those questions are questions that we'd love to get honest answers to. But when you ask a question like that, sometimes the candidate will just tell you what they want you to hear. And you know, they'll come up with some sort of cookie cutter answer about, Oh, I'm trying to blah, blah, blah, help you help me. It's hard sometimes to get honest answers, maybe it's because your team has been trained on this radical candor communication that helps you to get more out of it. It's a little bit harder with candidates. Tito: Yeah. You can't do it in the first interview. Right? You're not going to ask them, why do you want to join AltiSales? What’s your ROTI? But, once you've gone through a couple of interviews and you're about to offer the job, and this will happen, they say, I have another three job offers. And we say, okay, great. Why in the world would you join us? Why wouldn't you go somewhere else?So, we're not saying justify the fact that you want to join us. I say justify the fact that you don't want to join anybody else. What makes us special? If we give you a job offer, would you take it? And why would you? I mean, isn't every job the same? And then what is funny is this is a little bit of reverse psychology, right? They'll do the opposite. It'll be like, Oh no, Tito, here are the three things I love about your company. I love that you're international. I love that I can work from home. I love this. I love that. And I really want to join you. And I say, are you sure? They're like, yes. I'm like, okay, so if I give you this job offer right now would you take it? They’re like I would, I'm like, you already have it. That's it. Sign here. Right?And then with your employees you also want to be constantly talking about it. So like our managers to every employee, they ask him, what is your mindset? Are you in rockstar mindset or are you in superstar mindset? Superstar mindset means you want to work hard long hours. You want to get a promotion. You don't mind coming in early, leaving late. You're going to be assigned more responsibility.You want to expand your responsibilities beyond your primary area of expertise. You want us to train you and coach you and guide you and help you grow. If you're in rockstar mindset you're the opposite. You just want to do your job really well. And some people are rockstar mindsets with orientation about money. You're a sales rep. You just want to sell as much as you can. You don't want to learn about sales management. You don't want to learn about marketing. You don't want to learn about any of these. I'm going to sell day in and day out and make my money. And other people are rockstars oriented towards time off, they say, I'm just gonna come here, I'm going to do my work. I want to work six hours a day then I have to take care of my kids, or I love playing golf and go play golf twice a week. Or I want to do XYZ outside of my job. Dude, I'm getting married. I got to plan a wedding. I got stuff to do. I can't be working 10 hours a day, screw that.So we understand how employees think, how they behave, what they're looking for. We try to optimize the manager's efforts to help them achieve in the next few months, whatever they want to achieve, or they can be rotating. So monster in some quarters, they're in a rockstar mindset, some quarters they're in superstar mindset, and then they can shift back and forth and the managers learn how to manage to those mindsets. Max: Very good. Well, I don't know about the rest of the audience and our listeners, but personally, after, after hearing you. I kind of feel like applying for a job at AltiSales, just to see how I would fare in the recruitment process. I'd like you to try that reverse psychology on me in interview number three. And I think there was a lot to pick there not just for me, but for any company that wants to hire in sales. So thanks for sharing all those nuggets of wisdom, Tito.Tito: Of course, man, my pleasure. Unfortunately, you wouldn't be qualified to join us because you said pain points. Max: All right. Well then I won't or maybe, I'll use one of my aliases and see how far I can get through. Thanks Tito, and , looking forward to meeting in person again when traveling is permitted.Tito: Well, let's make it happen. Thanks Max. Max: Cheers.Max: Awesome inspiring chat with Tito Bohrt Founder of CEO of AltiSales. Please check out AltiSales and add Tito to listen to his insights on how to build a sales development team. His content is the driving engine behind his recruitment. I think, a lesson for anybody who wants to build a large scale operation, large or small, especially if you're going to hire remote teams.Thank you, Tito. Hope you enjoyed it. If you want to hear more interviews with thought leaders in the recruitment space, subscribe to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast, leave us a review and invite your friends. Thank you. See you soon.
30 minutes | 6 months ago
Darcy Lalonde from Figari Solutions Inc. - Core Executives and Company Culture as Drivers of Recruitment
Welcome to the recruitment hackers podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by Talkpush, the leading recruitment automation platform.Max: Hello everybody. This is Max for another episode of the Recruitment Hacks from Max and today on our show, we have a personal friend of mine who I've known for over a decade, Mr. Darcy Lalonde. Darcy, welcome to the party. Darcy: Thanks max. Good to chat. Max: Good to chat and I'm sure people will appreciate that from one entrepreneur to another entrepreneur, we have a lot of different hats to wear, but today I'm going to ask you to wear the hats of you as your Recruiter in Chief for most of your companies, even though your responsibilities have been much broader and wider than that. And we're talking about more than 20 years of experience in HR related roles, human capital, human capital technology and HR tech, and oftentimes in a leadership role at either the foundation, the start of a new company, or when that company was scaling, going from a few hundred to a few thousand people.And so we'll try to find out how you build those engines to understand, for somebody who also wants to scale up, you know, maybe find some tricks and ideas on how to attract more and better talent. So, there's a lot to cover in that 20 year history, but perhaps tell us a little bit about what you are to now… and yeah, let's go back a little bit in time. Tell us about how you, how you started in HR and HR tech. Darcy: Well, it’s interesting coming from a former ice hockey player, who became an accountant, got into IT and somehow got into human capital management, which I guess is a lesson learned for many of us, is that as a small child growing up, I had dreams of playing ice hockey. I never had dreams of being an executive in Human Capital. But it's funny how the different roads and I think one of the things that sport taught me was the importance of team, the importance of people, and one of the interesting things is that I've always found it to, you know, to often be the captain of the team and things like this as a kid.But, what really makes things, I think rewarding is the people around you. And, I think that was one of the things as I got into my career, that the people and the teams and the folks that work with you are so important. I've been I must say, over the last 20, 30 years started up a number of companies of which, you know, I'm very proud to say from a lot of the people that have actually joined those companies after another but have been the times of our lives.You know, I think that's part of creating the culture of your business and your ecosystem. Is that you know, you do have fun. You have a passion, you work hard, you play hard. You create loyalty. and you know, just one of the things that I very much enjoyed was the people aspect.And you know, I came through as an accountant and ended up in IT. And I guess it was interesting that I used to be very critical of human capital and HR professionals as being relatively non-effective. Not at the board. Max: I'm thinking about your introduction. This is very nice. And telling us about your story where you're talking about the competitive edge and your background in sports. And I guess the perception from the outside world is you know, HR and Talent Acquisition, Human Capital, all of that's not really for the competitive. Yeah. You know it's more of a support function where it's more about you know, making sure that everybody's taken care of as opposed to going out to win, is that what you're referring to when you were saying, I didn't think I'd end up in that space? Darcy: Yeah. I guess, you know, one of my challenges that I've given many HR professionals over the last 20 years since you know, is really getting in the HR space in 2001, when I joined Arinso, you know, I'm a supply chain guy. I'm a finance guy. you know, we have supply chains and value chains and activity based costing and all these things that drive and show, you know, qualified and quantified benefits. HR people, they go for coffee. They chat with people, you know, and I'm being a little bit facetious here obviously, but I do believe that…Max: That’s the perception for sure.Darcy: It is the perception. And I don't think it needs to be, I think in today's world more than any time, the HR professionals have the opportunity to step up and really drive business and drive business benefits. Drive, you know, people, because you know, again— and I've been around a long time and, you know, people are our most important asset. That's been on everybody's webpage for about 10, 20 years now.But, do you really have an executive at your boardroom table who is strategically driving the benefits that your people can bring to your business? And can you as an accountant quantify that? Can you actually show the benefits? And at the end of the day, the financial impacts on the bottom line, top line and ultimately sharing.And I will say that's one of the things that I'm very, very big on is sharing the rewards of the company back to the employee. So that there's a direct correlation that says I make profit. I share it with you. I don't make them up. I can share it with you. Max: This challenge you say, more important now than ever. I think that some of that is because we're looking for people who are competitive in a world where maybe there's a generational shift where people often criticize millennials as being… Asking too much and giving too little. At the risk of sounding very old, what do you think about this generational shift, do you think that it's true? Do you think that it becomes harder to find people who are willing to, you know, go to battle with you in this environment?Darcy: Yeah. I guess I’m the edge of the baby boomers.Max: I thought you were gen X. Darcy: No, no, I just caught the end , but you know, it was interesting because I came into the business world when we were moving from mainframes to files, server computing, and I remember when I first came in as the young buck, they all found me very abrasive, very pushy, very millennial. I would say, you know, these crazy people that are going to work with, you know, local area networks and email and Microsoft products. You know I think at times it is a little bit oversold, the whole millennial concept and again, coming back max to recruiting and you really need a personal touch now to grab people, I mean, the attention span and the ability to be very smart and have access to Google. My kids are smarter than me. Right. And they're 12 years old because they out-Google me. That's I think one of the things that you have to now be able to digitally connect to your people. And is that some of your first time points are reaching out digitally, but then you're trying to bring them in and get that, a little bit, that you are special, you are somebody that I'm actually targeting and focusing with. And I still believe people have the same inherent, you know, behaviors and needs Max: It’s overblown. Basically. We think people make too much of a big deal of the generational gap. I tend to agree, but I also think that somehow, one of the reasons why you've been successful for 20 plus years is because you have found a way to attract a more competitive, more hungry group of professionals. You know, people who are just like in a hockey team they want to win. So, is that something that is built into the culture post on-boarding, or is that something that you figured out a way to do at the recruitment stage. Darcy: Yeah. Well, I, you know, I think the first meeting is that first touch, that first moment is a very important moment. And I guess I've hired people that ended up being some of my most successful executives over the phone. Didn't see them. All I heard was a voice and this was, you know, we didn't have zoom back 10, 15 years ago. You know, and I would have somebody fly in from Sydney flying to Manila show up for their first day.And it was really about, you know, having that feeling and just having somebody passionate and you know, talk about things. Like, look, I need somebody who just wants to get on a plane, do whatever it takes, but I'll tell you, when this thing takes off, then we're all going to have a heck of a rocket ship ride.And frankly, that was, in Asia, which was my second company Arinso. Starting up SAP, HR, in Southeast Asia in the year 1999 sounded like the craziest thing in the world to me. SAP, very expensive, you know, Southeast Asia, particularly not investing in certainly human capital solutions, they were more focused on at that point, supply chain, finance, procurement things like that.And, you know, just going in and, having, my partner at the time, Josh ended up doing very well in life with our exit of Arinso. I guess it was 12 years later. But coming in to AsiaMax: So from, from zero to a 50 million revenue plus business, something like that.Darcy: Yeah. I mean, it was funny because I was a Canadian living in Asia and between Singapore and Manila. And I say, this fondly, this crazy Belgian guy Josh Slice, kept phoning me up and saying, look, we need somebody to start up this, you know, Asia. And he called it the far East. We need this far East group to be started.Max: For people who don't work in Asia, there is no such thing as the far East. It's not a real region, right?Darcy: No, I was still looking for the far East.Max: Yeah. We're talking about like 12 countries that speak 12 different languages with 12 different regulations and laws and so on. Starting North gate Arinso in Hong Kong and then into the Philippines, you had to hire across the far East as they call it in different countries. Recruitment was very different in different parts of Asia? Did you have to adapt your process or was it more, you know, company culture trumps everything and we'll worry about localizing later?Darcy: Yeah I think back then it was really sponsored by SAP coming into the region, so I had very good connections with the SAP community and there's a guy by the name of Les Hayman. Who's the head of SAP APJ. And Les is no longer with us, but it was just a fantastic man. And again, a great leader and an inspirational leader. And I guess my point is that I do believe that kind of leadership is something that, you create.I guess this was back when I had really long hair and I was even a bit more eccentric than I was even today. I went to Asia and got introduced to a few people and hired people. Frankly, those people still work for my companies today, a lot of them.So, but I think in those days you could really, word of mouth, it was a bit less of a mature market, so the competition was less. And I would say SAP HCM professionals in Asia, pretty well, every single person I almost see with, with 10 years of experience have worked for one of my companies. So it's something I’m very proud of, but also very proud of that management group that I've created that, some of my best friends in the region. But I think it really was word of mouth and less digital. And this was 20 years ago. Now on the recruiting front, we were doing things like Taleo and you know, some of the big, enterprise stuff with Arinso. So that was really the infancy of it was the late 90s was really that whole targeted recruiting stuff was just coming in. Max: It sounds like a lot of that is relationship based and, word of mouth and that perhaps even though you are a technologist and you did sell these technology platforms that in your case, you know, what really drove recruitment marketing and talent attraction, was more around executive hiring and more around finding people who are passionate and the human factor. Would you say that still holds true today that people, you know, we have vendors like Talkpush and others that make a big deal of the candidate experience, but the human elements is still King. Darcy: Yeah. I mean certainly think you have to frame a storyboard that, you know, brings an edginess to it. Again, the millennials are looking for that maybe more than they were in my generation. You know, my kids will say, dad, you met Richard Branson. Yeah, I did meet Richard Branson. I mean, stuff like this, people want to work for some of these types of people andMax: Right, you could put a picture of Richard Branson on your website and get a few more candidates perhaps.Darcy: Yeah. Well, I have pictures beside Bill McDermott and Jen Morgan and all these kinds of people, I think Les Hayman over the days, Hasso Plattner... I've been very blessed to…Max: I kind of know those names, but I don't think that millennials will care so much.I mean, it might help you attract a couple of executives. But, thinking about your time at Shore Solutions, where you went from 200 to 2000 call center agents in a period of two years. Those names would not have meant anything to those guys.Tell us about that strategy, how you did the ramp up there and the cool factor that you were able to build in order, to multiply the size of your business by 10 and in a short period of time.Darcy: Yeah. And I guess that's an example too, of having moved from professional services with SAP and consulting and, exiting that business. And then really I lived in Manila. So, if you're in Manila and you need something to do, you know what makes sense to do? Well, you do a call center. so that was you know, one of my objectives. And again, I think in terms of focus and target, obviously the call center industry is another completely different industry. I think it was very, really interesting for myself from a Human Capital Management Executive who had all the answers to all the best practices and processes. And now to take that from a more enterprise view into a contact center or BPO. Which is all your recruiting particularly highly competitive market. Everybody's stealing from everybody and very much again, how do you create that vibe that creates the loyalty? You know, and, to be honest, I guess my people formula is what I like to call more of a waterfall, which is, getting those top managers in your leadership team, they have to be also the ones that create that vibe down to the next level and the next level and the next level.And, you know, we were, I think lucky enough, in the short that, you know, had a kind of, and I think I've framed him. He's this big Australian guy, John L. Smith, and kind of a rugby, big guy. So you got him and me and the hockey…Max: They sounds scary. Yeah, it sounds like they would scare the candidates away, not attract them.Darcy: Well, you'd be surprised. There's this we're gonna, hang with these guys. And I shouldn't say guys, cause I, you know, Shore was another one of the companies where I created I think one of my strongest management teams and I think you've met many of them, you know, the Tanya's and Lenny's and, and Jerry. We had just a phenomenal group of people and not only were we hugely successful, but we had a ton of fun. We did stuff that, you know, and again, Shore was also, you know, I think one of the best blends, cause it was two years, 200 to 2000. Max: So the fact that he had a ton of fun, for our audience, mainly Talent Acquisition people. Were you able to put that into words or images in a way that it would attract people, how do you convey the message? You put pictures of your parties on the wall?Darcy: Yeah. I mean, I think we did have you know Tanya, who was my marketing lady at the time, did a great job of creating these sound bytes and clips. But it's also again, when they have those interviews and they have those touch points that you've got the right lead in, that, you know, you grab them quickly. Reputation then quickly takes over. And the reality is I don't like to overpay people, but I certainly like to pay people what they're worth. So it's another concept where, you know, I want people to have good lives, so I don't want to have the lowest salaries in the business. I want to have people that can build and grow and certainly the Philippines. Again, that's one of the most rewarding aspects. I think of being an executive there is, now with my 20 years of being there, I can count thousands of people that have changed their lives. And some of them from the poorest situations, They work hard, they got passion. It's not always about which college they're from. I liked the underdog. I liked the people that never got a chance. Yeah, and again, I think maybe from a sporting side, but what you want to do is maximize people's strengths, minimize their weaknesses, build on… You know, a team can’t have all superstars.you need to respect the plotting accounts payable clerk, you know, it's okay to be a plotting accounts.. Max: Give everybody some love, pay them well, hope that the word of mouth and the positive sort of company culture resonates. And that generates some positive word of mouth, some referrals, and it sounds pretty simple when you say like that.Darcy: Yeah, it does. Max: There's no secret sauce. I feel the same way that it's better to pay a little bit over market rates and reduce attrition. And, then focus on everything else. And well, you don't have to promise the moon to anybody, you just build a good environment and hope that positive word of mouth carries you. Because really, if you get 20 or 30% of your hires through referrals, employer referral, that means you're doing a good job, right? Darcy: Yeah. Absolutely. And, again, the call center, you know, human capital market is you know, again, I think where you do need to some degree focus on the nicheness of the marketplace. So you can't have one style fits all. When I'm recruiting an executive, it's going to be different than a volume recruitment. But, I guess the story should still be the same, right? The vibe of the company, because that's, you know, again, I think the challenge of trying to get it and you know, back 20 years ago I was much more involved with the operational side.So I was at the parties. I was at the coffee. I was at the lunches. I was in the middle of it… as I guess I've taken on more entrepreneurial and chairman roles and less operational, I need my team to be able to take that passion and, it can’t be that you know, we're all disappointed because Darcy didn't come to the meeting. You can build that out in, and that could perhaps be a, you know, there's a certain size of business that I frankly don't enjoy as much as you know, I, I love them when we've got 10 people. A hundred people, a thousand people, when you get to 10,000, somebody else should buy my business and take it. And they should really get rid of me because I'm unmanageable. It's time to move to the next level. And, and, you know, I don't think I guess I don't take offense to that whole concept. I'm a bit proud of it. I guess that's my rebel side that says, you know, I'm good to a certain point. And then I can let some of these big, more corporate enterprise folks who are much smarter than me, take it over and take it to the next level. Max: Well, there’s so many different definitions to intelligence. I don't know if they're smarter than you, but maybe they're a little bit more political. Talking about the ideal number for a team. I've been doing some research on, you know, what would be happy. And I think that 2000 is already way beyond where I could foresee myself in the sense that I can not remember 2000 people's names. There was research done on the cognitive limits on the number of people that one can remember and be friends with in the community it's called Dunbar's number and numbers like around 150 to 200. I could see myself, you know, working with that, but it's different for everybody, for sure.But I think, some great advice there Darcy about enabling each of your leaders to become the engine for recruitment, rather than try to put it into a formula. Every team needs to have an inspiring leader that wants to create a fun environment in each o their teams and it’s something that everybody can take away from our conversation. What's in store for you in the future? I'm going to continue to, by the way for the listeners, Darcy was kind enough to give us a chance because he loves the outsiders so much that he decided to be my first customer at Talkpush some six years ago. And will continue to advise Talkpush in its next phase of growth.What are you working on next? What are you working on now? Darcy: Well, I guess as you know, Max, I, was sure we had a small SAP group, which when I sold that to an Australian company and then we took the SAP piece, that share piece into something called Synchrony, which was again a company that about a year ago I sold to Rising, which is a big U.S partner. So, you know, put in a good year. I had a nice transition. I’m very proud to see that, you know, we became number one in Asia for SAP success factor partners. Within 12 months, we were named the number one partner in the region, which I couldn't be more proud of. And now they will become and they are probably the biggest global partner in the world. And that's what I set out to do. And I’m happy that you know, Rising will take it to the next level. So I guess I'm settling in the whole Corona thing, I guess COVID stuff is... Certainly created a challenge for all of us, which is just another challenge on the road. It's a tough one and when we go back max to the millennial discussions and things that, you know, I think we could argue, this generation was fairly entitled with very little resistance to their success. I think now ...Max: Think this will teach them a few lessons?Darcy: Well, I think I didn't have World War II. I didn't have a lot of the tough stuff that you know, our generations before us had. And boy, now we've got our World War III, literally, that we’re going to have to deal with, I'm looking forward to as we go through ….Max: So Darcy, thank you for sharing these cool insights and to wrap up our conversation, would you have any practical tips for employers today on how to stand out in a crowded group? You were competing for talent in some of the most crowded markets for talent across the BPO sector in particular in the Philippines and in Asia.How did you manage to stand out? And what tips do you have for talent acquisition professionals to build a different brand that doesn't look and sound like everyone else?Darcy: Well, I think number one from my perspective is to have a passion, love what you do, have the passion, the drive. I think, you know, again in today's world, you have to digitize that. So again, it's to create the edge, you know. I build businesses, I start businesses. One of the things that I have learned over the last 10 years, particularly , and that was a great example was Shore was that you have to digitize that cool factor. And you know, as an entrepreneur, I think that is really the, absolute key is to lead by example, have the passion have the drive, bring in people that share that, then be able to digitize that because that is really how you can scale yourself and move yourself.And get the attention that, you know, in the old days might've been, you could do that in events and whatnot. You know, frankly now you do this digitally. But , you know, one of the things, is a warning that I have is don't digital spam. Because I see companies right now. Gosh if, If I see another one of their LinkedIns they’re spamming everywhere.Max: LinkedIn is the worst. It is the absolute worst when it comes to spam. I mean, I don't know how they manage to do that, but it is mayhem out there. Absolutely. So, digitalization, we didn't spend too much time on, but obviously that's been a core theme running through your career is first build a great management team that's going to communicate the employer value proposition and then digitize it so that you're not overly dependent on individuals, I guess, to get the message out.Dacy: Yup. Yup. I think in today's world again you know, I've always been able to manage multiple countries without being in them. At one time I managed 15 countries with the Arinso Middle East, Asia, Canada, delivery centers, and you know, I used to call it management by email. Because I, you know, again, that was the digital side 10 to 20 years ago. If you've got the right on the ground, what I always found was that at least with an email, the same message came at the same time to the same people.I'm not a big believer on conference calls and having calls for the sake of calls, because I've often found that my management team went away and they all took a different message out of it. Somehow. Probably tailored a little bit to their own benefit to a certain degree.Max: Yeah, you pick and choose. When it's black and white, there’s less room for confusion. Saves a lot of time with calls. I've been trying to do more written asynchronous communication, which is another fancy way of saying email and spending less time on calls myself. That's a very powerful. Yeah. Alright, well, we're about done on time. Thank you Darcy for spending this time with me and with our listeners and looking forward to seeing what's next in store for you for the next entrepreneurial adventure.And thanks for all your advice throughout the years. Darcy: Okay, thanks max. And looking forward to seeing Talkpugh get to that next level. Keep up the good work buddy.That was Darcy Lalonde, friend of Talkpush, serial entrepreneur, who told us about how important it is to build a core executive team that's going to help to drive recruitment and share the fun of your company culture. Thank you, Darcy. Hope you enjoyed the interview. If you want to hear more about recruitment and how it drives business, please listen to some of our other episodes.If you liked it, leave us a review and subscribe to this channel. Hope to see you soon.
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